The Scene: The 1998 MLS Cup Final should arguably be in the top three on this list. Played between the two-time defending champs, DC United, and an expansion team, the Chicago Fire, the game took place before a huge 50,000+ crowd at the Rose Bowl.
By the time 90 minutes expired, the Fire had shocked the nation by besting United 2-0.
The Build-Up: After winning two straight titles, DCU had finished the season 2nd to juggernaut LAG for the Shield. CHI had remarkably finished 2nd in their division (behind LAG) and won the US Open Cup despite playing together for the first time. DCU played well to advance to the Final, and CHI shockingly upset LAG to reach the big dance.
The Game: Peter Nowak’s legend grew largely during the Final, much to DCU’s chagrin. In the 29th minute. Nowak and Ante Razov executed a perfect give-and-go to set up Jerzy Podbronzy for an easy goal into an open net. Later, a rebound off a Nowak shot gave the Fire goal #2. Armas and Thornton also played fantastically well for the Fire.
The Legacy: This MLS Cup Final is significant because it is – without a doubt – the biggest upset in the league’s history. DCU would have won four straight titles if not for CHI’s magic that afternoon. Why isn’t it higher up then? Well, because it wasn’t as close or tense as many other Finals on this list. But, I still think it deserves the #4 spot.