Major League Soccer will crown its champion Sunday, when the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC face off in the title game for the third time in four years.
For the first time in 11 years, ABC is the home of the English-language national TV broadcast. The network televised every MLS Cup final from the league’s inception in 1996 until 2008, when the game moved to ESPN. Sunday’s contest is the first soccer game on ABC since the 2014 men’s World Cup final.
Spanish-language coverage is on Univision, simulcast on the network’s cable sports channel TUDN. Athough ABC and Univision have long histories with MLS, it’s the first time that a final airs on the two flagship channels.
Coverage in Canada is on TSN4 in English and TVA Sports in French. Both networks have their own crews on site in Seattle.
This time, the teams will meet on the other side of the continent at CenturyLink Field. All 69,000-plus seats were gone within 20 minutes of the public sale’s starting on Nov. 2. It’s the largest-ever crowd for a soccer game in Seattle, which for decades has been one of America’s great soccer cities, and the state of Washington as a whole.
Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC
When: Sunday, Nov. 10
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Kickoff time: 3:08 p.m.
TV: ABC in English at 3 p.m. (Jon Champion, Taylor Twellman and Sebastian Salazar), Univision and TUDN in Spanish at 3 p.m. (Jorge Luis Lopez Salido, Raúl Guzman, Diego Balado, Marcelo Balboa and Ramses Sandoval)
In Canada, TSN’s coverage in English (Luke Wileman, Steve Caldwell, Kristian Jack and James Duthie) starts at 2 p.m. TVA Sports’ coverage in French (Frédéric Lord, Vincent Destouches, Nicolas Martineau, Hassoun Camara and Patrice Bernier) starts at 3 p.m.
Note that YouTube TV, Hulu and PlayStation Vue carry ABC but not Univision, while FuboTV carries Univision but not ABC.
Radio: Nothing over the air in the U.S. On satellite radio, SiriusXM FC has the game on Channel 157 in the U.S. and Channel 173 in Canada (Joe Tolleson, Tony Meola, Brian Dunseth and Jason Davis). In Toronto, TSN 1050 has coverage starting at 3 p.m.
Betting odds (via SugarHouse): Seattle 4/9 to win, 19/20 to win in regulation; Toronto 29/10, 5/2 to win in regulation; tie in regulation 5/2.
Season series: Seattle won 3-2 at home on April 13 in the teams’ only meeting this year.
How they got here
Seattle: The West’s No. 2 seed beat No. 7 FC Dallas and No. 3 Real Salt Lake at home, then upset Supporters’ Shield-winning No. 1 Los Angeles FC on the road in the conference final.
Seattle player to watch: Midfielder Nicolás Lodeiro
While star forwards Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz get the biggest headlines, Lodeiro is the player who stirs the Sounders’ drink. He’s been on the field for every minute of Seattle’s playoff run, and has delivered big-time performances all the way through:
Toronto player to watch: Midfielder Michael Bradley
You don’t have to like him. You don’t have to think he should keep playing for the U.S. national team. You can criticize him for whatever you’re going to criticize him for. But you can’t deny that Bradley is Toronto’s captain and a huge piece of any chance it has of upsetting Seattle.
And by the way, Bradley reportedly will have a $6.5 million contract option for 2020 automatically triggered if Toronto wins.
Also worth watching: The Seattle crowd
When the Sounders arrived in MLS a decade ago, they set an exceptional standard for atmosphere and fan base. Right out of the gate in 2009, they became the first team to average 30,000 fans per game. In 2012, they became the first team to average 40,000 fans per game, and in 2015 the crowds rose to 44,247 fans per game.
Since then, the gates have gone down a little bit, and the spotlight has moved to newer teams. But this year’s average of 40,247 is still a huge number, No. 2 leaguewide after fellow juggernaut Atlanta. Sunday’s full house should take the electricity to another level.
From the pregame march through downtown to the sea of bright green jerseys in the stands, the atmosphere alone is worth tuning in for. Pay special attention in the moments before kickoff, when the fans chant in unison and the supporters’ clubs unveil ornately decorated banners that stretch across the stands.