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16 pieces of MLS Cup trivia to impress your watch party

Seattle isn’t the first team to enter MLS Cup on a playoff-long shutout streak, but they have the longest.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Seattle has had one impressive playoff run. After drawing 0-0 in the first leg against Vancouver, the Seattle Sounders have scored multiple goals in every game. Not only has the Sounders offense been clicking, but the defense has not allowed a single goal this postseason, just the third time a team has reached the MLS Cup final on a shutout streak. This year’s playoffs are the opposite of last year, with Toronto barely edging out sides to get into the final while the Sounders are easily blowing out opponents to come in on top. So with all that in mind, here are your random playoff facts by the numbers.

0: Seattle has given up zero goals in the playoffs this year. Only two other clubs have made it to MLS Cup with that accomplishment, the 2003 Chicago Fire and 2007 New England Revolution. Those two sides only had to play three games, and both only had to go on the road once. Neither side kept a shutout or won the final, and in neither case did those teams enter with the most goals scored among the finalists.

1: Toronto FC’s playoff goal differential is +1. They are only the fourth team to reach the final with a such a small margin. The 2010 Colorado Rapids are the only team to win the Cup with that low of a goal differential.

2: Only two teams have won an MLS Cup the year after losing in the final. DC United did it in 1999, winning their third in four years, after losing in 1998. The LA Galaxy did it in 2002, winning in their third MLS Cup Final appearance after losing to San Jose the year before.

3: This is the third time in MLS history that teams will meet for back-to-back MLS Cups. The previous two meetings were Houston and New England in 2006-2007 and Los Angeles and Houston in 2011-2012. Both times the team that won the first (Houston and Los Angeles, respectively), won the second meeting, which bodes well for the Sounders. It should be noted that Houston’s wins were both played at neutral venues and the Galaxy won both of theirs at home. The Sounders are trying to win back-to-back on the road.

4: Only four finalists have had a playoff goal differential better than Seattle’s +7. Three of the teams were prior to 2003, when teams played a vastly different playoff format — the 1999 Galaxy and 2000 Fire each had a +8 GD and the 2001 Earthquakes earned a +9. The first two rounds of the playoffs were best-of-three affairs back then. Last year’s Toronto FC mark of +11 remains the best in MLS playoff history.

5: Brian Schmetzer has five league championships as the head boss with the Sounders. Schmetzer has four in the USL — two playoff championships and two Commissioner’s Cups (the USL equivalent of the Supporters’ Shield) — along with the 2016 MLS Cup. With a win on Saturday he would become the first American head coach to have multiple professional titles at the lower- and first-level pro divisions.

6: That’s the difference between Seattle and Toronto’s goal differential: the Sounders are +7 while Toronto is +1. Last year it was Toronto who were six better than Seattle, going +11 compared to Seattle’s +5. This ties with 2016 for second-highest difference in goal differential, behind only the 2001 matchup between San Jose (+9) and Los Angeles (+1).

7: The Sounders are trying to win their seventh major trophy since joining MLS (they’ve won four US Open Cups, one Supporters’ Shield and one MLS Cup so far). The only non-Canadian teams with more than that are the LA Galaxy (12) and D.C. United (12), and neither of those teams have as many as the Sounders since 2009.

8: Stefan Frei now has eight postseason shutouts, tied for fourth-most in MLS history. He’s recorded shutouts in five straight games and hasn’t allowed a goal in 557 minutes, a MLS postseason record. He also has the best career postseason goals-against average (0.66) of any goalkeeper with at least 10 starts.

9: There are nine players who have made at least one appearance in this year’s postseason run who weren’t even on the Sounders roster during last year’s run. That doesn’t even include Clint Dempsey and Tyler Miller, neither of whom played during last year’s run. By contrast, Toronto FC has four players who have played during this year’s postseason who weren’t on last year’s roster, and only two of them have started.

10: The Sounders are now more than 10 hours into their postseason shutout streak. The last time they allowed a goal in the playoffs was in the 13th minute of the 2016 Western Conference finals, 647 minutes ago.

12: The 2016 MLS Cup final took 12 kicks from the spot to decide, with Roman Torres making Seattle’s decisive fifth goal. Four MLS Cup finals have gone to kicks from the spot. Twice has the match the following year gone to extra time, but none have gone to penalties in back-to-back years.

15: The two sides facing off on Saturday have combined for 15 bookings during the playoffs, seven for the Sounders and eight for Toronto. Both sides have had just one player suspended for accumulation, Roman Torres and Sebastian Giovinco, although Jozy Altidore was suspended after receiving a red card in the second leg against the Red Bulls.

16: The difference between Toronto’s regular season points and Seattle’s is the fourth largest in MLS history between MLS Cup final participants. The largest difference is 18 points, which has happened twice (Columbus and Red Bulls in 2008, and LA Galaxy and Houston in 2011). The second highest differential was 17 points, between D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids. The 0.47ppg difference also ranks fourth-largest.

19: The amount of shots Toronto took in last year’s cup final, including seven on target. None were successful.

122: Seattle and Toronto combined for 122 points this season and a massive 1.794 ppg between the two. That is the largest points total and ppg total in MLS history, with the next closest being 116 combined points, which occurred in 2011 and 2014. You have to go back to the turn of the century (and prior) to find a close ppg, with the 1998 and 2000 finals each producing a combined 1.781 ppg.

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