SEATTLE — It was all business as usual for Toronto FC as they had light training session on a cool and crisp Friday morning in the Pacific Northwest. After hosting the 2016 and 2017 MLS Cups, Toronto FC are embracing the role of being the away team in a hostile environment this time around.
The visitors are preparing for Sunday’s battle against the Seattle Sounders just like any other match.
“It’s going fine, it’s going well,” Toronto FC goalkeeper, Quentin Westberg explained to Pro Soccer USA. “We’ve had a lot of time to prepare for a single game, it’s quite a change in the (playoff) format this year. We re-grouped, rested a little bit, and we’re back at it. It’s been a very good last few days getting ready for the big event.”
Unbeaten in their last 13 matches, Toronto FC is playing with all the confidence in the world. After upsetting New York City FC, and Atlanta United FC, Toronto has turned its attention to Seattle. They know the Sounders will be a monumental challenge, but the players are locked in.
“It’s the same preparations as the game before,” Laurent Ciman revealed to Pro Soccer USA. “A good mentality, fighting, and stay together, that’s it.”
A crowd of 70,000 fans are expected to be on hand at CenturyLink Field to cheer on the Sounders, making it the second-largest crowd for an MLS Cup in league history behind last year’s spectacle in Atlanta. If Toronto FC can stay compact, bend without breaking, and find their rhythm quickly, they could have the recipe to help them hoist their second MLS Cup in four years.
“You don’t look at the spectators,” Ciman said. “You’re ready, and focused on the game. After 15 minutes, it’s difficult for sure. If you stay strong, and you don’t concede a goal, you have a good possibility.”
The possibility of either team being a favorite wasn’t a topic that Westberg was ready to tackle.
“No offense, but I don’t think it’s my job to give any favorites,” Westberg shot-back. “I’m happy that I’m a Toronto FC player. I’m really happy that I’m wearing this crest, representing this city, and great organization.
This run and this playoff format is set where so many of these games are just very on the edge. The results and all the wins that you get, keep building great memories, and moments with the team. This is what we look for, and I’m proud I’m with Toronto FC.”
Earlier this year, Sounders FC got the better of Toronto with a 3-2 win at home on April 13. Toronto FC will want nothing better than to come into a hostile environment and take home the MLS Cup. Heading into Sunday, they’re looking to make some history again.