Crazy as it may seem, it’s still possible that MLS Cup could be hosted at CenturyLink Field and the scenario isn’t even that far-fetched.
Ever since 2012, MLS Cup has been hosted by the team with the best regular-season record. Although the Seattle Sounders finished seventh in the overall standings, that was four spots better than the Montreal Impact. If the Sounders beat the Colorado Rapids in the two-game, aggregate-goal Western Conference finals and the Impact beat Toronto FC, the Sounders would host MLS Cup on Dec. 10.
While that’s a bit more simplified than it may look, neither the Sounders nor the Impact should be seen as significant underdogs.
No team has been more impressive in the MLS Cup playoffs than TFC — outscoring the Philadelphia Union and New York City FC by a combined 10-1 — but this is still the same team that won one of their last six regular-season games. They also went 1-1-1 against the Impact, and their only win over their Canadian rivals was back in April.
The Impact didn’t exactly finish the regular season hot — going 2-1-3 down the stretch — but they did beat D.C. United 4-2 on the road and topped the New York Red Bulls 3-1 in the conference semifinals. D.C. had finished the season 4-1-2 and the Red Bulls hadn’t lost since July 3, a stretch that saw them go 9-0-7.
The Sounders will have their work cut out for them, too. The Rapids have the league’s best defense, allowing just 33 goals in their 36 matches so far. That’s seven fewer goals than any other team in MLS. The Rapids beat the Sounders in both of their meetings.
Hope is hardly lost, though. The Sounders have not played the Rapids since May, and the current squad is nearly unrecognizable to the one that was then in the midst of a 2-8-1 run of form. The Rapids’ achilles heel is scoring goals, something they’ve done at a worse rate than every team except the San Jose Earthquakes. Since Aug. 6, the Sounders have gone 10-3-3, while the Rapids have gone 6-4-5.
Hosting MLS Cup still requires a bit of a dream scenario, but hope is far from lost.