Sports cultures collide as Seattle makes MLS Cup trip to Toronto –

TORONTO — With 10 days to anticipate MLS Cup 2016, BMO Field and the Toronto sports culture have been top of the ticket as anticipation builds among a fanbase hungry for its first championship in more than 20 years.

BMO will be rocking with the full-throated force of its expanded attendance of 36,000; the game sold out earlier this week – in three minutes.

And yet, it’s not time to sleep on Seattle.

“We’re used to that type of atmosphere,” said Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer. “Because at home because we play for north of 40,000 people, a really good atmosphere for ourselves on gameday. I have absolute confidence in the team; whatever obstacle is put in their way, they’ve found a way to compete and get things done.”

Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan – who played two college seasons at the University of Washington before entering the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, where Seattle drafted him No. 16 overall – believes Seattle to be especially interested in soccer, an easy case to make when the Sounders draw a league-high 42,636 fans to each game.

And that is a passionate bunch, Roldan says, one that loves the game and puts emphasis and expectations on winning and bringing home trophies.

“We’re pulling 48,000 at times,” said Brad Evans, one of three Sounders to have played for the club since its 2009 original. “It’s massive. It’s not like that anywhere else in the country. We’re very fortunate and very lucky to be in that situation. I know what it’s like to play somewhere where it’s not like that.”

But for stadium capacity, Toronto remains one of the MLS host cities with a strong claim to rival on atmosphere. And Ontario native Jonathan Osorio has been impressed by the building following buoying TFC during this two-year run toward postseason success.

“It’s amazing the way the whole city gets behind you,” Osorio said. “Even if your favorite sport is not soccer, because you’re from Toronto, you want to support.

“I think it’s great for the city that these teams are having a lot of success. It’s something the city deserves, because their fans are so passionate – they’re always one of the best in all the leagues.”

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley has said more than once recently that the Toronto sports scene is unlike anything he’s ever seen. He feels that there’s a true sense of pride in representing more than just themselves and their team, that it expands to other sports, the city and even the country.

Having returned with an ambitious eye, both on his own career and the overall fortunes of the Reds, Bradley has reached all but the highest MLS plateau. And he thinks there’s a level left for the Toronto fans as well.

“If we can make Saturday the most special night yet,” Bradley said. “I think everyone is going to be amazed by what we see.”


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