The 2020 MLS regular season begins this weekend. With that in mind, here are the top five contenders to lift MLS Cup when all is said and done.
After an awfully long offseason that has featured several teams break their transfer records, a Mexican hero finally make his move to the league that he has seemingly always been destined to join, and two expansion teams prepare for their first outing in Major League Soccer, the regular season is finally upon us.
For many teams, dreams of making the playoffs and making a deep run at MLS Cup are just that: dreams. But for others, there is a very tangible expectation that they at least come close to winning it all.
So, with that in mind, here are the top five contenders to win MLS Cup in 2020.
5. Toronto FC
Despite some early-season concerns which included the departures of Victor Vazquez and Sebastian Giovinco and a troubling stretch that saw them win just once in 11 games, Toronto FC found themselves right back in MLS Cup for the third time in four years in 2019.
Outside of a midseason slump which coincided with a Jozy Altidore injury and some international absences, TFC was a pretty solid outfit in 2019 for much of the year. New additions Alejandro Pozuelo and Omar Gonzalez played huge parts and Toronto ended the regular season with a 10-match undefeated streak. That continued in the playoffs with wins over D.C., NYCFC and Atlanta, before coming up short against Seattle.
Toronto was forced to play without Altidore in the playoffs and despite making due, his loss was too much to overcome in the final. In fact, their lone goal in MLS Cup came from Altidore himself in the 93’ minute after being subbed on late in the 68’ minute. Altidore is key to Toronto’s attack. Without him, they often look toothless and confused. They are also a different team without captain Michael Bradley, who will miss a good chunk of the season recovering from ankle surgery. So those are the concerns for their chances of a repeat.
The good news is this team is strong all-around and brings back basically the entire squad from 2019. They haven’t suffered any major departures and, outside of a handful of youngsters, they’re lone signing of note is DP winger Pablo Piatti. While Piatti is coming off a knee injury, he has vast experience in Spain having played for Espanyol, Almeria and Valencia in La Liga, as well as in the Champions League and Europa League.
2019 also saw TFC reach the Canadian Championship finals where they lost to Montreal. However, they rested several players to focus on their playoff positioning. Not winning that championship and advancing to CCL as a result means TFC is well-rested for the first time in a while heading into the season.
If they can weather the no-Bradley storm, keep Altidore relatively healthy, and see a couple of other players step up in the goalscoring department, Toronto could make another deep run in the playoffs.