The Best Teams In The MLS (Ranking All-Time History)

The Best Teams In The MLS (Ranking All-Time History)

Welcome to our ultimate list of the very best Major League Soccer teams of all time. We have selected teams that lit up the league in a single season, rather than focusing on dynasties or franchises that have enjoyed continued success over several decades. These are the specific teams that we feel represented the absolute pinnacle of MLS quality since the league began:

5. Toronto FC, 2017

Toronto FC became the first Canadian team to win the Supporters’ Shield when they secured a 4-2 victory over New York Red Bulls in 2017. They got the better of the Red Bulls and Columbus Crew in the playoffs, before easing to a 2-0 victory over Seattle Sounders in the MLS Cup final. They scored the third largest regular season goals tally in MLS history thanks to the devastating strike partnership of Italian veteran Sebastian Giovinco and the electric Jozy Altidore. They were defensively solid, and a midfield led by Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio was magnificent.

4. Columbus Crew, 2008

Columbus Crew finished 11 points clear of their closest rivals to clinch the Eastern Conference in 2008, winning the Supporters’ Shield in the process. They then swept their opponents aside in the playoffs to seize the MLS Cup, vindicating a major rebuilding exercise under head coach Sigi Schmid. This team did not boast many superstars – although veteran Argentinian forward Guillermo Schelotto scored 12 goals and provided 19 assists in 27 games – but it epitomized teamwork and diligence. It did not enjoy a particularly astounding statistical season, but it overcame several obstacles and Schmid formed a team that was far greater than the sum of its parts.

3. D.C. United, 1999

D.C. United kicked off a dynasty by winning the MLS Cup in 1996 and 1997. In 1998, D.C. United and LA Galaxy set a joint record for the most wins in an MLS season, with 24 apiece. D.C. United scored 74 goals that season, and it was the heavy favorite to win a third consecutive MLS Cup, but it suffered a shock defeat to Chicago Fire. However, it bounced back by winning the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, becoming the first MLS team to win a CONCACAF tournament, and that set the springboard for a tremendous 1999 campaign. D.C. United won one fewer regular season game, with 23 victories, but it easily claimed the Supporters Shield and then obliterated its opponents in the playoffs. The squad disbanded after that triumph following the introduction of a strict salary cap, but fans will look back fondly to the superteam led by Roy Lassiter and Jaime Moreno.

2. Atlanta United, 2018

The Five Stripes blazed a trail of destruction across the MLS in 2018. It was only the second year of existence for this expansion franchise, but former Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino had a wealth of talent at his disposal. From Brad Guzan in goal to Josef Martinez and Miguel Almirón in attack, this team was stacked with star quality. They won 21 games and scored 70 goals throughout the regular season, before beating New York City in the playoff semifinals. They came up against the Red Bulls – a team that finished two points ahead of them in the regular season – in the conference final, and surged to a 3-1 aggregate victory, before destroying Portland in the MLS Cup final.

1. LA Galaxy, 2014

There have been many great LA Galaxy teams over the years. They set regular season records in 1998, won the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup in 2000, completed a Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup double in 2002 and won two MLS Cups during the David Beckham era. Yet the 2014 LA Galaxy was the best of the bunch. It did not have high-profile superstars like Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole or Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who have graced the franchise over the years, but it did have Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan operating at the peak of their powers in attack. They ripped their opponents apart with gleeful abandon, before scraping past a very strong Seattle Sounders team in the conference final and beating New England to claim the MLS Cup.
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