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10 Greatest MLS Teams of All Time

Fans of soccer come in all ages, shapes, sizes, and types, from die-hard loyalists to fair-weather supporters, all have their own preferences. When picking the best MLS players and teams, doing so without bias is difficult.

Based on titles, fans, and overall success – here are the 10 greatest MLS teams of all time.

10. Atlanta United FC

  • MLS Cup Wins: 1 (2018)
  • Best Ever Player: Josef Martínez 

Founded in 2014, Atlanta United became the twenty-second MLS franchise in 2017. In addition to sharing Mercedes-Benz Stadium with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL), they are Atlanta’s first major league soccer team.

Their owner is Arthur Blank, who started Home Depot. Having won the MLS Cup in just its second season (2017), the earliest since 1998 for any expansion team put this team on the map.

They set multiple league records in their quest for a championship, including season ticket sales of over 36,000 and single-game attendance records of 72,548. Their fan base remains one of MLS’s strongest.

In their championship season, the average attendance was 53,002,  and the total home attendance was over 900,000. Atlanta United plays its home matches at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

9. Portland Timbers

  • MLS Cup Wins: 1 (2015)
  • Best Ever Player: Robert Rensenbrink

The expansion berth was granted to Portland by Major League Soccer in 2009, which led to the club’s establishment. Merritt Paulson established the Portland Thorns in 2012 after purchasing Peregrine Sports, the team’s majority owner, in 2007.

In 2011, the Timbers were inducted into Major League Soccer. One of North America’s best-supported clubs is made up of fans from the NASL’s original base and a new generation who were attracted by the glamour of MLS. 

In 2015, fans at Providence Park witnessed one of the most significant franchises was named On MLS playoff games in the “Double Post” penalty kick shootout when the Timbers won the club’s first MLS Cup.

In a pandemic-affected season in 2020, the Timbers won the MLS is Back Tournament after winning the Western Conference title in 2018.

8. Toronto FC

  • MLS Cup Wins: 1 (2017)
  • Best Ever Player: Jozy Altidore

Toronto was awarded an MLS franchise in 2005. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment paid US$10 million for the franchise. The franchise was named on May 11, 2006, and joined the MLS Toronto to play their home games at BMO Field, located at Exhibition Place along Toronto’s shoreline. 

This team, coached by Greg Vanney, is operated by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which also operates the USL League One affiliate team Toronto FC II and most other professional sports teams in Toronto. Fans refer to the team as “The Reds” and “The Football Club.” 

7. Houston Dynamo

  • MLS Cup Wins: 2 (2006, 2007)
  • Best Ever Player: Brad Davis

The Houston Dynamo Football Club, also known as Houston Dynamo FC or simply Houston Dynamo, is an MLS franchise based in Houston.

During their first two seasons in 2006 and 2007, Houston Dynamo won MLS Cup twice. In addition, the club won the US Cup once in 2018. They finished runners-up in the MLS Cup twice, in 2011 and 2012, and the Supporters’ Shield once.

Last year, Houston Dynamo FC changed its logo as part of a rebranding process. In keeping with the Dynamo’s founding in 2006, the new logo features a hexagonal shape whose six sides represent the city’s original six wards. Houston is known for its bayous, described in the monogram by the interlocking channels.

6 San Jose Earthquakes

  • MLS Cup Wins: 2 (2001, 2003)
  • Best Ever Player: Jeff Agoos

The franchise joined MLS in 1996 (originally as the San Jose Clash) as one of the charter clubs of the league. The Earthquakes took part in the first game in MLS history, defeating D.C. United 1–0. The Earthquakes have won two MLS Cup titles in 2001 and 2003. They lost their league status at the end of the 2005/2006 season. 

The Earthquakes returned after their two-year hiatus, resuming play in 2008. Argentinian Matías Almeyda is the Quakes’ current head coach. Since 2015, the Earthquakes have played their home games at Earthquakes Stadium.

A sponsorship deal led to the establishment of the  Avaya Stadium from 2015 to 2019. The team previously played its home games at Buck Shaw Stadium on the Santa Clara University campus in Santa Clara, California, from 2008 to 2014.

5. Columbus Crew

  • MLS Cup Wins: 2 (2008, 2020)
  • Best Ever Player: Brian McBride

It is one of the ten original teams in the league. Columbus was not among the original host cities of the 1994 World Cup, so many experts thought it would be a disaster.

There is no doubt that the Crew may be the most critical team in the league’s history. But why? The Crew was the first team to build a soccer stadium in the US. That experiment set the standard for every stadium that was built afterward. 

The Crew have gone through a rebrand and almost made a switch to Austin. But “The Nordecke” have stayed firm with their city of origin.

They are now under new ownership and have planned to move to a brand new stadium. Exciting times ahead for the Crew will make history again when they move to a downtown Soccer Stadium.

4. Sporting Kansas City

  • MLS Cup Wins: 2 (2000, 2013)
  • Best Ever Player: Matt Besler

It would be an understatement to say that this team has had a quiet 8 or 10 years. At the beginning of the decade, Sporting Kansas City started life as the Kansas City Wizards. Buton there was nothing magical about the first quarter of the 2011 season. The team began the season with a 1-6-3 record.

Children’s Mercy Park opened in June. Suddenly, everything changed. For eight years, Sporting dominated the conference. They made the playoffs from 2011-2018 and won 4 trophies, including the 2013 MLS Cup.

They finished atop their conference three times in the regular season but did not win the Supporters’ Shield. All told, SKC won trophies or finished first in six of their conferences during the decade.

3. Seattle Sounders FC

  • MLS Cup Wins: 2 (2016, 2019)
  • Best Ever Player: Clint Dempsey

Consistency and excellence are two qualities that make greatness. Being able to achieve and maintain great heights is the key to success. It’s not just one shooting star, but a steady flow of success as well. Make sure your success spreads far and wide. The Sounders are a great MLS team. A pair of MLS Cup wins. A total of three MLS Cup appearances. Three U.S. Open Cup victories. And one Supporters’ Shield. Impressive.

Among the longest playoff streaks in the league, they have made the playoffs ten straight years (11 total). Over the last ten years, teams with more than three years in the league have scored the highest points per game.

Reliability. In the previous 10 years, the Seattle Sounders have provided both. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise they have been named MLS Club of the Decade.

2. D.C. United

  • MLS Cup wins: 4 (1996, 1997, 1999, 2004)
  • Best Ever Player: Wayne Rooney

In the history of American soccer, few clubs have the tradition that DC United has. The club has won thirteen titles during their 25 years as they established the first dynasty of Major League Soccer.

As winners of three of the first four MLS Cups and two international tournaments, Washington’s late 1990s teams were highly regarded. D.C. fans were spoiled early, and the team had some of the highest attendance numbers in the league’s early years. 

In the same way, their old home, RFK Stadium, aged, the club did as well. RFK Stadium grew old, and Washington DC stagnated. The team became a shadow of its former self. Despite continued attendance, but not in the high 20,000 numbers of the late ’90s, D.C. had to find a place for the new generation of MLS supporters.

Audi Field is now home to United’s supporter’s group, the Screaming Eagles, and it is a facility that is genuinely worthy of D.C. United’s illustrious history.

1. LA Galaxy

  • MLS Cup Wins: 5 (2002, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2014)
  • Best Ever Player: David Beckham

LA Galaxy’s ability to attract big-name soccer stars helped the establish a dynasty in the 2000s. It was a great time to be a Galaxy fan.

Talking about the Galaxy from 2010 to 2014 was like talking about the recent Golden State Warriors run. They could lose, but realistically you knew that if their squad remained healthy, they were only ever going to be one winner. In those five years, the team won two Supporters’ Shields and three MLS Cups.

During their dominance, they set multiple league records that stand today. Due to Landon Donovan’s versatility, Bruce Arena often used a 4-4-2 attack, which looked like a 4-4-1-1. There was a Best XI player in every position on the Shield-winning 2010 squad – in goal, defense,  midfield, and attack.