A more even match up at this year’s MLS Cup Final

In a rematch of last year’s MLS Cup Final, Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders will duke it out this Saturday afternoon at BMO Field.

While Toronto’s starting 11 is quite close to what it was last year, Seattle has added significant new talent and will have a veteran with oodles of international experience ready for play on Dec. 9. Toronto FC lost last year in a shootout despite outmatching Seattle on paper. This year’s game will be even tougher for the home team.

Toronto firepower challenged by Seattle’s new and returning stars:

Yes, by any measure, Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore are MLS-leading attacking players. Together this season, they have 31 goals in all competitions. Seattle’s leading pair of goal scorers, Clint Dempsey and Will Bruin, have 23 goals combined. But neither Bruin nor Dempsey was in last year’s final. Dempsey was sidelined due to an irregular heartbeat and Bruin was playing for Houston.

Goalkeeping is even:

Toronto’s starting keeper for much of the season, Alex Bono, picked up from Clint Irwin who was TFC’s #1 last year. Bono has 72 saves from 104 shots faced, while Seattle Stefan Frei has 84 saves from 121 shots faced. Both keepers have around a 69 per cent save percentage, though Frei has recorded three more clean sheets than Bono through the season, with 13 vs. Bono’s ten.

Altidore’s Ankle:

There was talk that an ankle injury would keep TFC forward Jozy Altidore out of Sunday’s game. But he told multiple media sources Tuesday that although his condition wouldn’t be “perfect,” he was committed to playing on Saturday.

Seattle’s newcomers:

Seattle has added six players since last year’s final, four of whom are likely to start for the team on Sunday. Team top scorer Will Bruin, Swedish midfielder Gustav Svensson, Cameroonian defender Nouhou Tolo and Dutch Under-21 defender Kelvin Leerdam all joined the team this season. In comparison, Toronto FC has two new faces in its likely starting 11 compared to last year, playmaker Victor Vasquez and left-back Chris Mavinga.

But by the way, Toronto FC won the only meeting between these two teams this season on May 6 in Seattle. Jozy Altidore scored a penalty in the 23rd minute to give the reds a 1-0 win.