Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer was looking forward to a little pleasure with work Saturday on the eve of the MLS Cup final against Toronto FC.
The Sounders planned to spend the night in a hotel, with a team meal and some last-minute film work also on the menu.
“We’ll treat it as a normal game,” Schmetzer told a morning news conference. “And then normally my right-hand man Grant Clark (the Sounders’ director of team administration) and I like to go down into the local establishment, the bar underneath, have a glass of red wine — just unwind a little bit, relax. It’s normal.
“Then all of us coaches will go back upstairs and probably watch more film. And then we’ll get up in the morning, have a cup of coffee and then watch a little bit some more film, go over the details one more time. It’s just preparation for what our jobs are. Our jobs are to give the players the tools to be successful. And we want to make sure we do that.”
Toronto coach Greg Vanney had similar plans.
“I’ll play out as many different ways that this game can go (Sunday) in my head,” he said. “Try to have solutions as necessary. Looking at different ways we can use our guys. None of it is really new. It’s just a process that I’ll go through every day or night before a game. But because (Sunday’s) game is so early, (the process) probably starts a little bit earlier for me in terms of tonight.
“Same thing. Watch some video. My family will be around, I’ll see them for a little bit and then I’ll probably shut it down early.”
TFC flew in family and friends Saturday to spend some time with players and staff before the game.
Ping-pong has been popular at Toronto FC’s hotel in Seattle with forward Tsubasa Endoh and midfielder Marky Delgado said to be the class of the team’s table-tennis talent.
Midfielder Nick DeLeon says he has not taken part. “But the ping-pong table has been active, that’s for sure,” he said with a chuckle.
Seattle has 14 players still with the club who were in the squad for the 2017 MLS Cup, including nine of the 11 starters and both substitutes used (Stefan Frei, Kelvin Leerdam, Roman Torres, Joevin Jones, Nicolas Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan, Gustav Svensson, Victor Rodriguez, Will Bruin and substitutes Nouhou Tolo, Jordan Morris). Six of the starters from the 2017 championship game are still onboard.
Toronto has 12 players who were in the squad for the 2017 final including eight of the 11 starters (Alex Bono, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow, Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio and Jozy Altidore). Six of the starters from the 2016 championship game are still with the team.
The Sounders were 11-2-4 at CenturyLink Field during the regular season, tied for the third-most home wins in MLS this season. They have won both of their home playoff games to date.
Toronto was 4-6-7 on the road during the regular-season, tied for the fourth-best away record this season. It has won both of its playoff road games to date.
Toronto has never lost an away playoff match outside of Canada (4-0-1 in the U.S.). TFC lost games in Montreal in 2015 and ’16, was beaten by visiting Seattle in the 2016 final and was defeated by the New York Red Bulls at BMO Field in 2017.
Referee Allen Chapman will be in charge of his second MLS Cup, having taken charge of the 2017 championship game between Toronto and Seattle at BMO Field.
Chapman, named MLS Referee of the Year in 2017 and ’19, is in his ninth season as a MLS ref with 162 matches under his belt.
In 27 matches this season, He called an average of 19.3 fouls per match (second-lowest total, the league average is 23.3 fouls per game), while issuing 4.1 yellow cards on average (compared to 2.65 for the league average)
The 45-year-old American called nine penalty kicks and sent off 10 players — tied for the most among the 25 referees to officiate MLS games.
Chapman was in charge of the first-round playoff game last month between Toronto and D.C. United.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2019.
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