SportsPulse: Martin Rogers believes the World Cup group stage is filled with plenty of drama, potential Cinderella stories and star-studded matchups. So much so you’ll forget the U.S. isn’t in it.

The 2017 MLS Cup will be played between the Western Conference champion Seattle Sounders FC and Eastern Conference champion Toronto FC on Saturday, Dec. 9. 

This is rematch of the 2016 MLS Cup final, which was won by the Sounders in a penalty kick shootout at BMO Field in Toronto. The team that finishes the regular season with the better record gets to host the MLS championship game.

TIME, TV INFO: 4 p.m. ET, ESPN. Streaming online on WatchESPN. Available in Spanish on UniMás. Available in Canada on TSN (French broadcast on TVA Sports).

LOCATION: BMO Field, Toronto, Canada


Chasing history

With a win, Toronto FC would become the first team in Major League Soccer history to win a domestic treble. TFC already has won the Canadian Championship and Supporters’ Shield, which is awarded to the team with the best regular-season record. 

A number of MLS teams have come tantalizingly close to that elusive treble. The 2003 Chicago Fire were the first team to win the Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup, and only other team to go into MLS Cup with a chance at winning the treble. The Fire lost to the San Jose Earthquakes in MLS Cup.  In 2016, FC Dallas won the Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup, but were bounced in the Western Conference semifinals by the eventual league champion Sounders.

In 2014, the Sounders won the Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup, only to lose in the Western Conference final via the away-goal tiebreaker to eventual MLS Cup champion L.A. Galaxy. In 2002, the L.A. Galaxy won MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield, but lost in the U.S. Open Cup final. That matched the fate of D.C. United in 1997, when United’s shot at a treble in the league’s second season came down to a lost penalty shootout against the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) in the U.S. Open Cup final.

We meet again

If Toronto FC wants to make league history and be the first team to win a domestic treble, it will have to break a trend when it comes to MLS Cup rematches. This is the third MLS Cup that will be a rematch. In the previous two featured…