TORONTO — While reporters shivered on the sidelines, the MLS Cup final teams just went about their business in their final practice Friday.
Thanks to a strong biting wind, the temperature of -1 Celsius felt a lot frostier at BMO Field. The forecast for the 4 p.m. local time kickoff Saturday calls for temperature around zero with some snow. No one seemed bothered, however.
“I think it’s better than last year,” Toronto’s Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco said with a smile. “So this is good.”
Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono exuded warmth.
“It’s beautiful out here. I could do shorts and a T-shirt,” Bono, a native of Baldwinsville, N.Y, said with a broad smile. “I’m excited.
“Yeah, I’ll have a couple of extra layers on just to stay warm, just so I can move around and make sure I’m at my best. Other than that, listen, cold’s a mentality and we’re ready for anything. This is the Great White North and growing up (in New York), I’m just used to this as well. I’m just excited to get out there.”
Still, after last year’s chilly final, Toronto fullback Justin Morrow plans to up his clothing game.
“I think I’ll add a couple of layers,” said the Ohio native. “Remembering last year and how cold it was, it does have an effect on you. I’ll prepare for that a little bit differently, I think.”
It was -2 at the evening kickoff for last year’s game at the same venue, according to the league. That made it the second-coldest temperature for an MLS Cup final. The temperature at the 2013 final in Kansas City hovered around -6 at kickoff, making it the coldest match since 2003 when the league first started recording game-time temperatures.
While Mother Nature is staying true to December, the field got good reviews Friday.
“The groundskeepers have done an excellent job,” said Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer. “There’s no issues there for me.”
“For this time of year, the pitch is in great condition,” added Seattle midfielder Calum Mallace, formerly of the Montreal Impact.
The groundskeepers were watching the media horde closely, shooing them back from the grass.
Both training sessions were light Friday with the two coaches saying their teams were ready to play.
“The guys are tired of training,” said Schmetzer.
“We’re looking forward to getting the game on,” echoed Toronto coach Greg Vanney.
Vanney reiterated that striker Jozy Altidore’s sore ankle is good to go.
“He’s going to give everything he has,” Vanney said. “Over the course of the week of training, he’s done everything that we’ve asked. He’s probably looked farther along than we thought he might.”
Vanney said his message to his players was “it’s just another game.”
“The field’s the same size. It’s the same stadium we’ve played in many times. There’s a lot of built-up emotion around it and there’s a sense that it’s something bigger than probably it is. At the end of the day, it’s 11 vs. 11 and it’s all the same.”
Toronto will spend the eve of the game in a hotel. Last year it stayed two nights in a hotel before the championship game but decided to cut that to one night this time.