Sometimes, when you least expect it, teams rise up from the shadows and put in the kind of performances that remind you why they were a big deal in the first place – last night, as reported by MLS Soccer and Pro Soccer USA, Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC did just that as they both confirmed their respective places in the Conference Finals of this year’s MLS Cup playoffs.
Neither team was considered to be a lock for a win in their playoff games last night, and in fact, they were actually considered to be underdogs.
The Sounders went head to head with Real Salt Lake, who themselves were considered to be outside contenders for the title itself. They put Salt Lake to the sword with a convincing 2-0 victory, confirming that no matter how ‘out of it’ they may seem, they’re always capable of upsetting the established order.
Getting the job done
“[The coaching staff] will download the last three games for the Galaxy and LAFC and we will be prepared,” Sounders coach Schmetzer said. “As we enjoy our victory tonight and a little bit tomorrow, we’ll probably start preparing so when the game ends, we’ll be ready for whoever we play against.
“I’m looking forward to a good game because I’m soccer fan. For me, it doesn’t matter who wins, we’ll be ready for whoever we have to face. Certainly a home game would be nice, but other than that, it’s going to be an interesting game whether it’s the Galaxy or if it’s LAFC.”
Toronto, on the other hand, have made a career out of surprising people – and they did so again by beating New York City FC courtesy of a 90th minute penalty that sent them to within two wins of lifting the trophy.
“The mentality is really strong with this team, the work rate is really strong, the quality is there, they believe in themselves,” Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney said. “Anything is possible when all those things are put together.”
Just too good
NYCFC’s boss was clearly trying to come to terms with the loss still when he spoke with the media after the game.
“Simply we just weren’t good enough today,” Johnson said. “I think you look at the course of the game and we start off for 45 minutes and think get lucky to escape 0-0 at halftime. We didn’t show up with the right energy, the right focus and mistakes happen, but i think is a collective. In big games, in big moments, we have to show up.”
It’s time for the waiting game for both sets of teams as Toronto await either Philadelphia Union or reigning champions Atlanta United in the next round. On the other end of the bracket, LA Galaxy and LAFC will compete in El Trafico with the winner going on to face Seattle.
Either way, with all of the teams left in the playoffs, we’re pretty much guaranteed to have a world class MLS Cup Final – which is all any of us can really ask for.