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The 10 Greatest MLS Cup Finals: Preview

The MLS Cup is the annual championship game of Major League Soccer. It’s the young league’s “Super Bowl” and the determining factor in who is remembered as MLS Champion. Of course, almost every other soccer league in the world picks its champion based on the regular season records (which determines MLS’s Supporters Shield title).

Many foreign players in MLS have opined that the Cup itself means less to them than the Shield. Now, I understand that other cultures think our single championship game scheme is flawed, but I’m an American, and we like our sports leagues to be neatly tied up in a final, all-important game. Where’s the drama when a team can win it all with four games left?

The picture above is that of the current MLS Cup trophy, which is known as the Anschutz Trophy (doesn’t exactly have that “Stanley Cup” type ring to it, does it). I actually liked the old trophy (which was used until last year) better, and it doesn’t sit well with me that Mr. Rothenberg would be stripped of the honor of having the Cup named for him.

But, Mr. Anschutz did pour a ton of money into the league, so perhaps it is fitting that MLS Cup champions now pour beer out of his trophy and into their mouths after winning the MLS Cup Final. Regardless of what the trophy looks like or who it is named for, it is undeniably the highest award any MLS team can procure and the most coveted. 

There have been thirteen MLS Cup Finals so far, and most of them haven’t been disappointments in the “drama” category. In fact, the vast majority of them have been tense, competitive matchups. Over the next two weeks, I will be ranking the ten best MLS Cup Finals ever. It was not an easy list to concoct, but I foolishly tried it all the same.

How did I come up with my rankings? Well, I used three criteria when assessing each game:

  1. It had to be a great game (blowouts need not apply)
  2. It had to feature a strong storyline (great team wins or underdog upset)
  3. It had to be important to MLS’s popularity (lasting legacy)

With these three factors in mind, I ranked the ten best MLS Cups ever and I will share them with you over the next two weeks. Undoubtedly, I will leave one of your favorites off this list, so let me hear about it in the comments if you think I am just plain foolish (I am). Until then, keep coming back to STO to learn about the 10 best MLS Cups ever.

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