TFC casts an eye to sky as Saturday's Cup final approaches

Toronto FC players dug into their wardrobe Tuesday, with some wearing leggings, gloves and tuques to ward off a chilly wind during a late-morning practice at their north Toronto training centre.

The weather was in the low single digits, but felt colder.

They may have to get used to it in the countdown to Saturday night’s MLS Cup final against the Seattle Sounders at BMO Field, where the wind routinely sweeps in from the lake.

No surprise here. Soccer, just 15 days before Christmas, is likely to be chilly in the Great White North.

Environment Canada’s forecast for Saturday evening called for a low of -5 C with a 30 per cent chance of snow. The high during the day will be zero with a mix of sun and cloud.

As for the rest of the week, the temperature is expected to be hovering around zero during the day.

“Weather is weather. You can’t control it,” Toronto fullback Steven Beitashour, a California native, said philosophically. “There’s only so much you can do — throw on a couple of layers, maybe some gloves.

“But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check the weather. I did. And I’ve checked multiple times, hoping that that little snowflake turns into a sunshine. But both teams have to deal with it … If it’s cold, it’s cold. If it’s raining, it’s raining. But it will be fun, no matter what.”

Toronto coach Greg Vanney is also checking the forecasts.

“I’m hoping that it will warm up a little bit,” he said. “I’m trying to keep an eye on whether they’re planning for snow Saturday or Sunday. But I’ve learned a little bit to not look too soon because it can change a little bit. But yeah, I’ve got one eye on that.”

‘Would I like it warmer? Of course’

It might have been 26 degrees warmer in Pamana City than Toronto on Tuesday but Panamanian midfielder Armando Cooper, who previously played for clubs in Argentina, Germany and Romania, said he’s OK with the cold.

“Would I like it a little bit warmer? Of course,” he said cheerfully through an interpreter. “But cold and I get along well. All the places I’ve been to playing, I’ve dealt with it just fine.”

The average Toronto highs and lows for Dec. 10 are 1.8 and -5.7 degrees, respectively.

And for those hoping to see the glass half-full, the temperature plummeted to a record -24.9 in Toronto in 1977 on Dec. 10. And 13 centimetres of snow fell in 1994.

At the other end of the scale, it was a balmy 16.1 degrees in 1971.

Defender Nick Hagglund, an Ohio native who clearly doesn’t mind the cold, was one of a handful of Toronto players not to opt for leggings Tuesday. While others bundled up, he wore short sleeves although he did don gloves.

The weather has also been chilly in Seattle this week, with rain and a little snow Monday.

“We’ve managed to duplicate the exact atmospheric conditions for the final,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said dryly on a conference call Monday.

Schmetzer then paid tribute to the BMO Field groundskeepers.

“Our expectations are just that the field will be in good condition … It’s not like we’re coming from sunny Cancun or some place like that to play the game. We’re actually pretty far north ourselves.”

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