MLS Cup
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Columbus Crew SC vs. Seattle Sounders FC | How to watch and stream

Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs  – MLS Cup
Columbus Crew SC vs. Seattle Sounders FC
MAPFRE Stadium – Columbus
December 12 – 8:30 PM ET

TV: FOX, UniMás, TUDN, TSN, TVA Sports

STREAMING: FOX Sports App in US

Columbus Crew SC are seeking a second MLS Cup title and they'll have home-field advantage at MAPFRE Stadium, but they take on the juggernaut that is Seattle Sounders FC, who are in the final for the fourth time in five years and looking to win back-to-back championships Saturday night. 

The Crew played on the front foot throughout their run to a third MLS Cup appearance, rallying from an early deficit to defeat the sixth-seeded New York Red Bulls, 3-2, before a pair of clean sheets in wins over expansion side Nashville SC, seeded seventh, and fellow MLS original New England, the No. 8 seed. As the No. 3 seed in the East, the Crew's road to MLS Cup has been at the comfortable confines of MAPFRE Stadium, where they're 12W-1L-0D this season. 

The Sounders also enjoyed home cooking, where they've won an MLS record 15 straight playoff games at Lumen Field. But their road was considerably more rocky, especially when having to rally late from a 2-0 deficit to defeat No. 4 Minnesota United 3-2 in the Western Conference Final. Prior to that, Brian Schmetzer's bunch enjoyed a thorough win over seventh-seeded LAFC in Round One before grinding out a 1-0 victory over No. 6 FC Dallas in the Conference Semifinals. 

This is the third MLS Cup at MAPFRE Stadium, with the San Jose Earthquakes defeating the LA Galaxy in the 2001 Final and the Portland Timbers, then coached by Caleb Porter, upsetting the host Crew 2-1 in 2015.

The Crew defeated the New York Red Bulls in 2008 to win their lone MLS Cup, while the Sounders are seeking their third title in five years and could join D.C. United, the Houston Dynamo and the LA Galaxy as the only teams to win consecutive crowns. 

It will be a historic night as well for the officiating crew with Jair Marrufo taking charge of his third MLS Cup final. He will be joined by 2020 Assistant Referee of the Year Kathryn Nesbitt, who will become the first woman to referee a championship match in professional men's sports in North America. Corey Parker will join Nesbitt as the other assistant referee at MAPFRE Stadium for his second MLS Cup final, in the same place as his first in 2015. Marrufo also worked that game, and this is his first MLS Cup final since then.

Columbus Crew SC

Caleb Porter said he had a dream when he accepted the position of Columbus Crew SC coach. It was to return to MLS Cup, to have the match played at MAPFRE Stadium and for Columbus to celebrate another MLS Cup championship. They are on the grand stage again following a professional 1-0 win over the Revs. 

To reach MLS Cup for a third time in club history, Columbus needed attacking players like Gyasi Zardes and Lucas Zelarayan to work off the ball and for the defensive linchpins like captain Jonathan Mensah and defensive midfielder Artur to create that special offensive moment for the game’s lone goal. Porter lauded his team's collective defending, not just on Sunday, but throughout this run.

“These guys work, and I think that’s been the real difference this year is we’re balanced,” Porter added. “We’re good on the ball, but obviously we’re a good defensive team and that’s usually what makes the difference is the balance. We’re going to need that in the final because we’re going to be playing against a very good attacking team.”

The Crew's return to MLS Cup caps a remarkable turnaround for the MLS original, whose existence was in jeopardy just a few years ago. But following the successful #SavetheCrew campaign, the club got kickstarted with the arrival of the Haslam/Edwards ownership group and shifted into gear with the arrival of Porter and president Tim Bezbatchenko at the start of 2019. And it seems to have been capped by the acquisition of Zelarayan and midfield engine Darlington Nagbe a year ago.

“These guys have become winners,” said Porter. “And I told them that in the locker room: They’ve evolved from good players into winners. It's a credit to the group, because we have some very creative players that help us play football, but I think what I'm most proud of is, when we don't have the ball, how hard they work."

However, to win MLS Cup for a second time in club history, the Crew will need to deal with more adversity with news Nagbe and Pedro Santos have been ruled not medically cleared to play in the final. 

“Of course it's a big loss, it's a big blow. Those two guys have been key players for us,” Porter told reporters in a Friday media availability. “On a personal level, on a human level, if you just take away the soccer, I just feel for them. Obviously they're healthy so that's first and foremost the most important thing. But I just feel for them on a personal level, a human level that they can't be a part of an MLS Cup, that they so deserve to be a part of. And a big reason we're here in this position is those two guys.”

Project Starting XI

  • Updated team roster
  • Injury Report:
    • OUT: Vito Wormgoor (D) - ankle injury
    • OUT: Darlington Nagbe (M) - undisclosed injury
    • OUT: Pedro Santos (M) - undisclosed injury
  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty:  None

Seattle Sounders FC

The Sounders were favorites to get back to MLS Cup, certainly when the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs started, but that doesn't mean it was easy for Rave Green. They were in familiar territory by playing in the Western Conference Final, but faced a rare deficit when Emanuel Reynoso scored on a sensational set piece and set up Bakaye Dibassy to give the Loons a 2-0 lead in the 67th minute. 

The difference according to Schmetzer? Will Bruin, who came on for João Paulo to give Seattle another option up front. The 31-year-old, who hadn't played a minute this postseason, gave the Sounders the necessary shot of adrenaline by pulling Seattle back a goal in the 75th minute. It was Bruin's first playoff goal since 2017. What followed was nothing short of remarkable. Raul Ruidiaz struck for the 89th-minute equalizer before Gustav Svensson, who also came off the bench in the second half, headed in the stoppage-time winner off a Nico Lodeiro corner kick. 

Three goals in 18 minutes and the Sounders are back in MLS Cup again. Schmetzer said he's not sure how they did it, but they did it again and in historic fashion. 

“In our Sounders history, this is going to go down as one of the best games ever. I'm just telling you,” he said after the match. “Look, the final last year, we won a final, we won MLS Cup. But this has to rank right up there. This was a great win.”

Seattle won't have the depth at center back they're used to on Saturday with Ecuadorian Xavier Arreaga almost certainly unavailable for selection as he is back in Seattle awaiting the birth of his child, Schmetzer told media on Friday. 

"He will not be here unless this baby is born healthy and everything and we can get him here somehow by a miracle before the game," Schmetzer said. "But he is expecting his first child, it's a wonderful event when you have children. And so we let him stay there with his wife. When players come to this country and they're by themselves I know he has some help there in Seattle, but it's a challenging thing sometimes. So we're very pleased for Xavier. And he's an important member of our team. And I know he will be with us in spirit."

Project Starting XI
  • Updated team roster
  • Injury Report:
    • OUT: Danny Leyva (M) - right quad strain
  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty:  None

Series Matchup at Crew SC

  • Crew SC: 2 wins, 8 goals
  • Sounders FC: 4 wins, 11 goals
  • 1 draw

MLS Cup Playoffs

  • This is the first all-time meeting between Columbus Crew SC and in the MLS Cup Playoffs

Officials

  • Referee: Jair Marrufo
  • Assistant Referees: Corey Parker, Kathryn Nesbitt
  • 4th Official: Alex Chilowicz
  • VAR: Drew Fischer
Read More

Current Form

Columbus
W
L
W
W
W
W
Seattle
L
D
W
W
W
W

Season Stats

Columbus Crew SCSeattle Sounders FC
26Games Played25
15Wins14
6Losses5
5Draws6
42Goals51
23Goals Conceded26
238Shots244
113Shots on Target114
347Fouls committed263
347Fouls suffered281
52Offside51
137Corners147

Goals Scored

01234+TotalAvg
CLB79640421.6
SEA57472512
01234+Avg
CLB244402
SEA242522.5
01234+Avg
CLB552001.2
SEA332201.4

Goals Conceded

01234+TotalAvg
CLB118610230.9
SEA812320261
01234+Avg
CLB842000.6
SEA492000.9
01234+Avg
CLB344101.2
SEA431201.3
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