Neither the Seattle Sounders nor Toronto FC won the Supporters' Shield. They weren't even second, third or fourth. Calling either the best team in the league this year wouldn't be fair, no matter who lifts MLS Cup on Saturday (8 p.m., FOX), but they have been the two best teams over the last few months.
To say that the Sounders and TFC have been red hot of late would be an understatement. In their last 39 matches combined, the two teams have totaled just six losses.
That Toronto have been so good isn't exactly shocking. A lot of people picked them to win the Eastern Conference before the season. They have Sebastian Giovinco and Greg Vanney brought in some MLS veterans to shore up the defense. The injuries and struggles of Jozy Altidore slowed them in the first half of the season, but he scored 10 goals in the season's final 14 games, then five in five playoff games. With Altidore red hot to go along with the rest of a very good team, it hasn't even mattered that Michael Bradley hasn't been in great form.
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TFC also benefitted from a backloaded home schedule. Renovations to BMO Field meant the Reds had to start the season with eight road games, but it also meant they got to stay home plenty down the stretch.
The result was 12 wins and five draws with just three losses in their last 20 matches. Even as Bradley has struggled, through a Giovinco injury and any other bad luck that has come their way, TFC have been a machine.
The Sounders have been just about as good, but their surge hasn't been quite as expected. They were left for dead on July 31, one of the worst teams in the league and having just fired the only manager they'd ever had — Sigi Schmid. But from that last day of July on, they've been a machine too and have made the largest turnaround in MLS history.
No, Seattle and Toronto weren't the best teams in MLS this season, but they are unquestionably the best teams in MLS right now. They've been the best teams in the league for months. And MLS Cup will be featuring the best the league has to offer.