Toronto FC will have the home field to be the first Canadian team to win the MLS Cup. The Reds can do so at BMO Field against the Seattle Sounders, a team that has never won the MLS Cup. The 2016 MLS Cup will be Saturday at 8 pm Eastern.
TSN 1/3/4/5 and RDS will handle the telecast in Canada. Fox and UniMas will call the action in the United States. Canadians could access the Fox feed, especially for those that can pick up U.S. OTA signals.
Fox Sports 1 top sideline reporter Julie Stewart-Binks is Canadian, so she was the perfect choice to provide a Canadian history lesson during the pregame of Leg 2 in Toronto.
Stewart-Binks, a Toronto native, gave us 5 examples to highlight the contrasts between Canada's largest cities. "It's not just about sports, it's about history, politics, culture, and it stems from a long-running divide between English- and French-speaking Canada."
- The history lesson started with the Seven Years War and more specifically, the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. The war, which ran from 1756-1763, was won by Great Britain "leading to the control of colonial Canada but they allowed Quebec to retain its French language and culture."
- Quebec Sovereignty Movement, which sparked "2 referendums in the last 30 years." While you might think that is more about Quebec versus Ontario/Canada, Montréal is likely the reason the 1995 referendum failed. One point of order: the 1980 referendum was 36 years ago, which is more than 30 years. "2 referendums in the last 40 years" is correct.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montréal Canadiens first meeting was in 1917. Stewart-Binks had a nice Quebecois accent when she said "Les Habitants."
- The Toronto Blue Jays vs. Montréal Expos playing for the Pearson Cup. Stewart-Binks noted that the Blue Jays voted to approve the Expos departure from Montréal. In Pearson Cup contests, the teams went 3-3-2 in exhibitions games from 1978-1986 and 6-6 in regular season games in 2003-2004. However, the Blue Jays had a 24-19 advantage in regular season games from 1997-2004.
- Montréal defeated Toronto 3-0 in the MLS knockout round last season.
Stewart-Binks contrasted the "old guard in Montréal versus nouveau-riche in Toronto." Rob Stone and Alexi Lalas were blown away by the noveau-riche reference. I thought the French reference for Toronto was clever.
Stone asked Stewart-Binks who she thought was the greatest band to come out of Toronto. Stewart-Binks smartly steered the conversation back to Canadian bands and artists in general. She mentioned Barenaked Ladies, Alanis Morissette, Rush, and Neil Young. You can certainly put Barenaked Ladies and Rush in the GTA. Neil Young's childhood is a mixture that includes Toronto and Winnipeg. Morissette is from Ottawa.
Toronto and Seattle only played once in 2016, a 1-1 tie on July 2 at BMO Field. Toronto FC didn't have Jozy Altidore or Michael Bradley for that game.
Both teams had major struggles during the season. The Sounders replaced their only ever manager Sigi Schmid with Brian Schmetzer. The Sounders finished at .500 with a comeback under Schmetzer at 14-14-6 and a +1 goal differential..
Then again, both teams have played well in the playoffs.
The Reds have had a distinct disadvantage against the Sounders, going 2-7-2 overall and 1-3-1 in Toronto. The Sounders have consistently been a playoff team every year in MLS while this is Toronto's 2nd postseason run.
Seattle edged Sporting Kansas City 1-0 in the knockout round. The Sounders won 3-0 over FC Dallas in Leg 1 but lost 2-1 in Leg 2 in the conference semifinals. Seattle swept Colorado 2-1 and 1-0 to win the Western Conference title.
Each team has lost once in the playoffs. Seattle had a much easier time dispensing of Colorado. But will Toronto have the edge in having to work harder to outlast Montréal?
Sebastian Giovinco came out of Leg 2 at an awkward time. Often when soccer players fall to the ground, they magically get up soon after the fall. Giovinco was suffering from cramping. He should be fine for the MLS Cup.
Benoit Cheyrou, Giovinco's replacement, scored the first goal in extra time, so that worked out for the Reds.
Jozy Altidore has scored 5 goals and 4 assists in the playoffs. Altidore set the record for scoring in 5 straight playoff games.
Giovinco has 4 postseason goals but 0 against the Impact. Captain Michael Bradley only has a single postseason goal.
Jonathan Osorio and Tosaint Ricketts have 2 goals. Armando Cooper, Nick Hagglund, and Cheyrou added their first postseason goals to clinch the Eastern title.
MLS Canadian teams playoffs results
|2016||December 10||Seattle @ Toronto FC||TBD||TBD|
|2016||November 30||Montréal @ Toronto FC||Toronto FC||5-2 (OT)|
|2016||November 22||Toronto FC @ Montréal||Montréal||3-2|
|2016||November 6||Montréal @ New York Red Bulls||Montréal||2-1|
|2016||November 6||Toronto FC @ NYCFC||Toronto FC||5-0|
|2016||October 30||NYCFC @ Toronto FC||Toronto FC||2-0|
|2016||October 30||New York Red Bulls @ Montréal||Montréal||1-0|
|2016||October 27||Montréal @ D.C. United||Montréal||4-2|
|2016||October 26||Philadelphia @ Toronto FC||Toronto FC||3-1|
|2015||November 8||Portland @ Vancouver||Portland||2-0|
|2015||November 8||Montréal @ Columbus||Columbus||3-1 (OT)|
|2015||November 1||Vancouver @ Portland||Tie||0-0|
|2015||November 1||Columbus @ Montréal||Montréal||2-1|
|2015||October 29||Toronto FC @ Montréal||Montréal||3-0|
|2014||October 29||Vancouver @ Dallas||Dallas||2-1|
|2013||October 31||Montréal @ Houston||Houston||3-0|
|2012||November 1||Vancouver @ LA Galaxy||LA Galaxy||2-1|
Leslie Jones had love for Toronto coach Greg Vanney and Toronto FC. But her love has shifted to the Seattle Sounders. Jones has shown her love for the Sounders on Twitter and on Saturday Night Live over the weekend where she was wearing a Seattle Sounders jersey at the end of the show.
The 2 Canadian MLS teams in the Eastern Conference were a strong draw in the conference final. TSN drew 862,000 while RDS had 519,000 viewers for Leg 2, according to Numeris. TSN says the game's average audience was 35% higher than the previous record, which was Leg 1 of the series.
In the States, Leg 1 on ESPN drew 415,000. Leg 2 on Fox Sports 1 drew 223,000. That might be a factor of the difference in the U.S. outlets.
The fog and rain in Toronto added drama and ambiance to Leg 2. No matter which team you were rooting for, the conditions looked cool on television.
Fox Sports 1 will air a MLS Cup preview program Friday at 10 pm Eastern. Fox will run a 30-minute pregame at 7:30 pm Saturday.
TSN 1/3/4/5 will run a 1-hour pregame Saturday night at 7 pm Eastern.
photo credit: MLS/Fox Sports 1