With 12 minutes left in extra-time, Toronto FC striker Jozy Altidore pounced for a header from a cross from Tosaint Ricketts that could’ve been the goal to give Toronto an MLS championship last season.
Instead, Seattle Sounders goalie Stefan Frei shot up at the last second and deflected the ball away.
The events that followed after was arguably the biggest disappointment in TFC history. The game went into penalty kicks where the Sounders won 5-4.
That was last year when Toronto FC hosted its first-ever MLS Cup against the Sounders. It was a game that had the entire city on the edge of its seat until the final penalty kick.
Reds’ Anthony Morrow bounced the final penalty kick off the top bar and it bounced harmlessly away from the net. BMO Field became deadly silent and it was at this moment every player from TFC, as well as the fans, had the same goal; to do this year what they couldn’t do last year.
They will get that chance as they face the Sounders in an MLS Cup rematch this Saturday.
After last year’s defeat, the team not only prepped for this game but also built a strong foundation for many years to come. It starts with stellar goalie Alex Bono. The 23-year-old led the team to back-to-back playoff runs, and he has given up two goals in his past four playoff games. That’s important because the Sounders are the highest scoring playoff team with seven goals.
One thing holding TFC back is its defence, but they have kept the team afloat throughout the season. They will have to keep the Sounders’ forwards from entering the box because Seattle has a potent offense and can score at will. Seattle suffered a major setback this week as defensive mid-fielder Osvaldo Alonso is ruled out for the championship clash. This major hole in the Seattle mid-field will allow for Toronto forwards to form a strong attack.
Moving on to the mid-field. Toronto signed Victor Vasquez from Barcelona. He has played with the best, such as Barcelona superstar and former teammate Lionel Messi and Brazilian legend Ronaldinho. His experience in big games will help Toronto’s chances in winning the MLS Cup.
The big-bodied striker Altidore has bullied his way through defences all season, especially when he scored the series-winning goal against Columbus Crew. Italian maestro Sebastian Giovinco scored a total of 33 goals in the past two seasons, making him the third highest scorer in the MLS.
That is the rundown of the squad, but there’s more to it than names on a piece of paper that makes this team special. Toronto FC was established in 2005 and were down-right terrible. They amassed a total of 70 points it their first two seasons, one less than what they had this year. TFC finished last in the Eastern Conference three times and only made the playoffs once between 2007 and 2015.
Now after all those disappointing seasons, TFC is bound to build a dynasty. Certainly, back-to-back MLS Cup appearances help with that, but I believe Toronto will do all they can to keep their core. If it means paying big bucks for those stars then so be it, because the team that we have right now will keep Toronto at the top of the league for many years to come.