MLS Cup Preview
After a long international break, the MLS playoffs are finally getting underway. Teams like the Philadelphia Union, LAFC and Orlando City are on a mission to secure their first MLS Cup. Let’s look ahead at the potential matchups and storylines that will unfold as the tournament progresses.
Toronto FC showed its might this year after a disappointing performance at the MLS is Back Tournament. They looked to be cruising towards the Supporters Shield, a trophy given to the team who finishes with the best record in the regular season, when the team fell apart in a 5-0 loss at Philadelphia.
Some blamed injuries, others the fatigue from a long season, but after that loss, the team faltered and finished second in the Eastern Conference. Toronto is still the defending MLS Cup champions and has the personnel to go all the way, but do they have enough gas in the tank to get there?
The Philadelphia Union have been one of MLS’ best stories to come out of 2020. Despite one of the leagues lesser payloads and lack of star power, the Union finished the regular season at the top of the League.
Although they have had a continual rise with their talented youth over the past few seasons, some question if the Union are ready to take the next step. When put on the national stage with the chance to win the club’s first major trophy, the team stumbled and would not end up clinching until the final day of the regular season.
The Union are obviously highly skilled and fun to watch, but that will not win them the title. It will be interesting to see if Coach Jim Curtin and captain Alejandro Bedoya can lead the team to the final despite their lack of deep playoff experience.
The Portland Timbers began a solid campaign after winning the first ever MLS is Back Tournament. Unlike the Union, the Timbers have plenty of winning experience. Although they are poised to make a run, Portland has to get through a troublesome first round matchup with a Dallas team that had one of MLS’ better defensive records.
Nashville SC, a team that came into the MLS this year, is making its first playoff appearance. It will be exciting to see what this team has and if it will be able to pull off any upsets in the early rounds.
In a year where limited fans are allowed in stadiums and teams have been facing new challenges amidst a global pandemic, the winner of the MLS Cup will have to be a true champion. The club that wins will certainly not have an asterisk next to their title. If anything, the winner will be even more highly regarded for persevering through the countless challenges faced in 2020.
Maclain Young is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Freshman / Broadcast Journalism