TORONTO — Mother Nature offered a taste Wednesday of what MLS Cup final day offers — chilly temperatures with a twist.
On Wednesday, it was a stiff, biting wind that swept across Toronto FC's largely unprotected practice fields like a Mongol horde. Three degrees Celsius was said to feel like -3 C but high gusting winds soon left exposed digits feeling like icicles.
The forecast for Saturday's championship game at BMO Field between Toronto and the Seattle Sounders calls for scattered flurries/some snow with a temperature of zero, feeling more like -5. Kickoff is 4 p.m. local time, as opposed to 8 p.m. last year.
"I'd rather it be 75 degrees (Fahrenheit) and sunny to be fair," said Toronto defender Drew Moor, a Texas native. "But it is what it is. We're used to some pretty cold weather. The wind can be a bit annoying but it was a good (training) session."
Snow will not likely be a factor Saturday, given the stadium has heating under the grass.
"Even if it does flurry a little bit, I don't think it will affect anything," said Moor. "It was cold last year at MLS Cup, Both teams will remember that. It will be cold this year."
Added pragmatic wingback Justin Morrow: "This time of year it's always cold. So we expect it."
"We know it's going to be cold but once guys get running, then that becomes second to everything else going on," said Toronto coach Greg Vanney.
The league said temperature on the field at game time for the 2016 championship game was -2, the second-coldest temperature reading 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.
The Toronto players did their best to smile through the cold and seemed to have fun despite the chilly wind.
"For us a day like today was a little bit about relaxing, enjoying it, having a little fun on the field," said Vanney. "At the same time we had to work on a few things. But it's hard in this week to stay hyper-focused every singe day and then be hyper-focused on the day of the game.
"For our group ... it's also to enjoy this moment and to be able to step on the field with a good looseness that you're able to play but obviously everybody very locked in on what their responsibilities are."
Toronto striker Jozy Altidore did not participate in Wednesday's practice, working on his own to rehab a rolled ankle.
"He did what we needed him to do for today," said Vanney. "It was a very little on the field. Most of what he had to do was in the weight room and the training room."
Vanney denied there had been any setback.
"No, nothing, It's a process and (Thursday) he'll train with the group."
The average high for Dec. 9 in Toronto is two degrees, with the low at -5.5. Most snowfall for the day was 11.6 centimetres in 2005.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
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