MLS Cup Winners by Year (1996 – 2021)

Over the last few decades, Major League Soccer has taken massive strides to becoming one of the world’s most popular soccer leagues.

The American population typically loves to watch sports like American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey, but it’s quite encouraging to see a steady stream of increased soccer viewership, which does in fact round up “the Big-Five”.

Today’s article focuses precisely on the topic of MLS Cup winners, because as America’s premier soccer division continues to grow in popularity, more questions about the competition arise.

Which is why answering the question of which teams have won the league title and in what year is so pertinent.

Right, that’s enough waffle!

Let’s get into the finer details.

 

MLS Cup winners list

The table below contains all the past winners of this competition, all the way from its initial inception in 1996:

SeasonDateChampionsRunners-upFinal ScoreVenueAttendance
1996October 20D.C. UnitedLos Angeles GalaxyD.C. United (3) - (2) LA Galaxy; [after extra time]Foxboro Stadium34,643
1997October 26D.C. UnitedColorado RapidsD.C. United (2) - (1) Colorado RapidsRFK Memorial Stadium57,431
1998October 25Chicago FireD.C. UnitedChicago Fire (2) - (0) D.C. UnitedRose Bowl51,350
1999November 21D.C. UnitedLos Angeles GalaxyChicago Fire (2) - (0) LA GalaxyFoxboro Stadium44,910
2000October 15Kansas City WizardsChicago FireKansas City Wizards (1) - (0) Chicago FireRFK Memorial Stadium39,159
2001October 21San Jose EarthquakesLos Angeles GalaxySan Jose Earthquakes (2) - (1) LA Galaxy; [after extra time]Crew Stadium21,626
2002October 20Los Angeles GalaxyNew England RevolutionLA Galaxy (1) - (0) New England Revolution; [after extra time]Gillette Stadium61,316
2003November 23San Jose EarthquakesChicago FireSan Jose Earthquakes (4) - (2) Chicago FireHome Depot Center27,000
2004November 14D.C. UnitedKansas City WizardsD.C. United (3) - (2) Kansas City WizardsHome Depot Center25,797
2005November 13Los Angeles GalaxyNew England RevolutionLA Galaxy (1) - (0) New England Revolution; [after extra time]Pizza Hut Park21,193
2006November 12Houston DynamoNew England RevolutionHouston Dynamo (1) - (1) New England Revolution; [4-3 on pens]Pizza Hut Park22,427
2007November 18Houston DynamoNew England RevolutionHouston Dynamo (2) - (1) New England RevolutionRFK Memorial Stadium39,859
2008November 23Columbus CrewNew York Red BullsColumbus Crew (3) - (1) New York Red BullsHome Depot Center27,000
2009November 22Real Salt LakeLos Angeles GalaxyReal Salt Lake (1) - (1) LA Galaxy; [5-4 on pens]Qwest Field46,011
2010November 21Colorado RapidsFC DallasColorado Rapids (2) - (1) FC Dallas; [after extra time]BMO Field21,700
2011November 20Los Angeles GalaxyHouston DynamoLA Galaxy (1) - (0) Houston DynamoHome Depot Center30,281
2012December 1Los Angeles GalaxyHouston DynamoLA Galaxy (3) - (1) Houston DynamoHome Depot Center30,510
2013December 7Sporting Kansas CityReal Salt LakeSporting Kansas City (1) - (1) Real Salt Lake; [7-6 on pens]Sporting Park21,650
2014December 7Los Angeles GalaxyNew England RevolutionLA Galaxy (2) - (1) New England Revolution; [after extra time]StubHub Center27,000
2015December 6Portland TimbersColumbus CrewPortland Timbers (2) - (1) Columbus CrewMapfre Stadium21,747
2016December 10Seattle Sounders FCToronto FCSeattle Sounders FC (2) - (1) Toronto FC; [5-4 on pens]BMO Field36,045
2017December 9Toronto FCSeattle Sounders FC Toronto FC (2) - (0) Seattle Sounders FCBMO Field30,584
2018December 8Atlanta United FCPortland TimbersAtlanta United FC (2) - (0) Portland TimbersMercedes-Benz Stadium73,019
2019November 10Seattle Sounders FCToronto FCSeattle Sounders FC (3) - (1) Toronto FCCenturyLink Field69,274
2020December 12Columbus CrewSeattle Sounders FCColumbus Crew (3) - (0) Seattle Sounders FCMapfre Stadium1,500 (limited due to COVID-19 restrictions)
2021December 11New York City FCPortland TimbersNew York City FC (1) - (1) Portland Timbers; [4-2 on pens]Providence Park25,218

 

Who has the most MLS Cup wins?

According to the history books, Los Angeles Galaxy currently hold the record for the most MLS Cup wins as they have an enviable total of five titles.

It’s pretty easy to see why when they’ve had a fantastic crop of past players like Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Robbie Keane represent them in years gone by.

Following closely behind the team from Los Angeles is D.C. United, who’ve managed to rack up four MLS Cup wins within the same period of time.

Here’s a table that accurately breaks down the total number of wins recorded by the teams that have had the honor of lifting this trophy:

TeamNumber of TitlesRunner-up Awards
Los Angeles Galaxy54
D.C. United41
Seattle Sounders FC 22
Houston Dynamo22
Columbus Crew SC21
Sporting Kansas City20
San Jose Earthquakes20
Chicago Fire12
Toronto FC12
Portland Timbers FC12
Colorado Rapids11
Kansas City Wizards11
Real Salt Lake11
Atlanta United10
New York City FC10
New England Revolution05
New York Red Bulls01
FC Dallas01

 

How many teams have won the MLS Cup?

From the data above, it’s quite easy to decipher how many teams have been a league champion.

All you have to do is count each row and you’ll arrive at your answer!

But for those of you that are too lazy to put your finger on the screen and do a manual count, we’ll make things easier for you.

A total of 15 teams have won the MLS Cup on at least one occasion.

This list includes:

  • Los Angeles Galaxy;
  • D.C. United;
  • Seattle Sounders FC;
  • Columbus Crew SC;
  • Houston Dynamo;
  • San Jose Earthquakes;
  • Sporting Kansas City;
  • Toronto FC;
  • Chicago Fire;
  • Colorado Rapids;
  • Portland Timbers FC;
  • Real Salt Lake City;
  • Kansas City Wizards;
  • New York City FC; and
  • Atlanta United

 

Who won the MLS Cup in 2021?

In the past season (i.e. the campaign before the current one), the last MLS Cup trophy was lifted by New York City FC.

mls cup winners for 2021 - new york city fc

This was their first ever MLS Cup win, and they fought extremely hard for it as they had to overcome the Portland Timbers in a penalty shootout after a one-goal draw in normal time.

New York managed to net four penalties as opposed to their rivals’ lower tally of two.

 

Who won the MLS Cup in 2020?

In 2020, Columbus Crew SC emerged as the victors of the MLS Cup final.

mls cup winners for 2020 - columbus crew sc

They battled bravely to defeat Seattle Sounders by a 3-0 scoreline in normal time.

Columbus Crew SC had waited a long time to lift the trophy for a second time, as their most previous MLS Cup success before this one was far back in the year 2008.

 

How is the MLS Cup won?

The MLS Cup title is the culmination of the league’s playoff system which pits the winners of the Eastern Conference against the victors of the opposite Western Conference.

So, whoever manages to prevail in this final fixture is awarded a prestigious spot in soccer’s history books.

The qualification system is actually quite similar to basketball in America, where the top eight finishers of each conference in the NBA go through a playoff phase to determine the winner of each conference.

And after the two finalists have emerged, they face off in a winner takes all best of 7 championship series.

However, in the case of the MLS Cup final, only a single fixture between winners of the Eastern and Western Conferences takes place.

 

Wrap up

This article has shown you which teams have won the MLS Cup  by detailing the list of winners across multiple seasons.

If you’ve enjoyed this read, then you might also want to check out the article detailing the Premier League Golden Boot winners for each past campaign, as well as the Spanish Copa del Rey title winners.

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About Samuel Waihenya

Samuel Waihenya is 25 years of age and has been watching, discussing, as well as playing soccer for well over 10 years. With a solid educational background in business management, the Soccer Whizz website is his first foray into the digital web space and it has been created with the intention of providing the absolute best soccer content for its readership.