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The 10 Greatest MLS Cup Finals: What’s #3?

The Scene: The 2002 MLS Cup Final was played between the LA Galaxy and the New England Revolution before the largest Final crowd ever (61,316) at Gillette Stadium. Though the Gals had lost the Cup the year before in an overtime duel with SJE, this time it would be they who would prevail in overtime to best NER 1-0 and hoist their first MLS Cup.

The Build-Up: In one of the weirdest seasons ever, LAG easily won the Shield and all 5 teams from the West qualified for the playoffs. NER won the East, but they actually had a crappy record. Both teams dominated during the playoffs though and cruised into the title game. All observers thought LAG would murder the Revs to win the Double.

The Game: While LAG had seemingly scored at will during the season, Steve Nicol (who was in his first year coaching the Revs) managed to keep them scoreless during the first 90 minutes and the first overtime. Unfortunately, NER couldn’t score either though. In the 113th minute, MVP Carlos Ruiz finally broke the deadlock.

The Legacy: This game is significant for many reasons. For one, it was the first Final loss for NER, who would lose three more times in the next five years (including to LAG in 2005). Two, it was the Gals’ first Cup win after two losses in the previous three years. Finally, it was the highest attended Final ever and one of the closest. I think it definitely deserves the #3 spot on this list.