Ahead of MLS Cup between Seattle and Toronto on Saturday, such juxtapositions are inevitable. Simply put, they're the best players on the last teams standing.

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Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro doesn’t see much legitimacy in the comparisons between him and Toronto FC star Sebastian Giovinco.

“We’re completely different players,” Lodeiro said Sunday through a translator.

“The only way we’re alike is that we’re short.”

He’s not wrong. Lodeiro, who is 5-foot-7, is more of a playmaker. Giovinco, generously listed at 5-4 by TFC, is a pure scorer, forever with one eye on goal.

Ahead of MLS Cup between Seattle and Toronto on Saturday at BMO Field, such juxtapositions are inevitable. Simply put, they’re the best players on the last teams standing. And with the possible exception of Los Angeles’ Robbie Keane, they might be the two most influential on-field signings in Major League Soccer history.

TFC’s landing of Giovinco prior to last season was a watershed moment for the league. This was an established European star — an Italian national teamer with years of experience in that country’s respected Serie A — coming to Major League Soccer in his late 20s, still well within the range of his prime. Lodeiro, at 27 and with a contract that lasts through the 2019 season, is another example of the MLS’ changing priorities.

Out with the empty calories of a Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard. In with Designated Players who might not make as notable of an immediate splash with casual fans but who can still tear it up on the field, where it matters most.

Giovinco has racked up 39 goals and 31 assists in 61 career MLS appearances. He ran away with last year’s league Most Valuable Player award. His numbers are slightly down in 2016 — emphasis on slight — but he’s already tallied four goals and four assists in this postseason.

Lodeiro notched four goals and eight assists in 13 games following his arrival from Boca Juniors of the Argentine league in late July. The Uruguayan international was named the league’s Newcomer of the Year last month, and so influential was he on Seattle’s midseason turnaround that there was even some talk of a dark-horse MVP candidacy. Lodeiro has scored four times in five playoff games during his team’s run to MLS Cup.

“They’re both really, really good,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said Sunday. “Defenders have to be on their toes. Nico makes sharp, quick turns. Giovinco does the same. They’re a little different, though. Giovinco is a scorer. Nico has scored his fair share of goals, but Nico can put in those final passes.”

Adds Sounders defender Brad Evans: “They’re both obviously top players. They see the game differently than most. They’re deadly in small spaces and they pop up in different areas of the field. That makes them difficult.”

As to how Seattle will attempt to combat Giovinco’s influence on Saturday in Toronto, Evans’ answer was essentially to cross fingers and pray.

“You’ve just gotta do the best you can,” Evans said. “With a guy like that, with a top player, you can’t stop them, really. It’s all about us, keeping possession, taking our chances so we keep the pressure on him.”

Lodeiro might think much of the direct comparisons, but there was a bit of game recognizing game in how he described his peer. Giovinco’s reputation preceded him even when he was playing for Juventus and Parma in Italy and Lodeiro was still in Argentina.

“I knew about him,” Lodeiro said. “He played with several of my friends. And you always try to follow the good players and imitate some of their play.

“I don’t know that I copied this from him, but I like the way that he faces defenders. He takes the ball and he faces them without any fear.”

In that last part, if nothing else, Seattle and Toronto’s respective stars will share something in common when they take the field on Saturday night: A fearlessness that has helped lead their teams to the brink of a championship.