Naming the best teams in the MLS is a highly subjective task, that requires different variables to be taken into account.
For some people, “the best” means having the most titles. While for others it means showing a consistency through style of play and certain win rate.
Last year, Toronto FC probably made the most rememberable season in the history of MLS by making a treble - MLS Cup, Supporter’s Shield & the domestic cup competition. But is this enough, to crown Toronto FC’s 2017 team as the best in the league’s history?
In this article, we have taken into account the overall performance of each team during their most successful period. We measure their wins, titles, style of play and even effect on the league. So, let’s see which are our top five picks:
V. Chicago Fire (1998)
In 1998, Chicago Fire was led by the U.S National Team former manager Bob Bradley. Even though that it was the team’s first season in MLS, their performance is considered as one of the best debuts for an expansion team.
On the 25th of October, 1998, Chicago Fire prevailed against the defending champion D.C United in front of more than 50,000 spectators to win the Major League Soccer’s Cup.
It took some great players and an outstanding chemistry to end United’s winning play. Even today, Chicago’s title in 1998 remains one of the greatest in the league’s history.
Bradley’s team included players like Peter Nowak, Roman Kosecki and Lubos Kubik. The Mexican star on the goal line Jorge Campos, who made a move from LA Galaxy. Along with him, the squad joined the midfielder Chris Armas, who had some of his best days with the club.
During the day of the cup, Armas did the dirty work to neutralise United’s Marco Etcheverry. The Polish star Peter Nowak assisted for both goals and earned the MVP award after the game.
Just like every other team, they had their ups and downs throughout the season. Overall, they made a spectacular performance, especially during the regular season when they were unmatched.
IV. Houston Dynamo (2007)
During their second season, Houston Dynamo led by Philip Anschutz defended their MLS cup by winning over New England Revolution for a second time in a row.
In July, the team broke the league shutout record of 681 minutes, whereas their streak ended a week later after 726 minutes. The previous holder of the record was Kansas City Wizards.
An interesting fact is that the season of 2007 was the first one that featured paid advertisements on the front side of the jerseys. During that year, Dynamo signed a huge sponsorship deal with the retail electricity provider - Amigo Energy - for a reported sum of $7.5 million.
Apart from the MLS Cup, Houston Dynamo also won the Carolina Challenge Cup and reached the semi-finals of both SuperLiga and CONCACAF championship. They have a fantastic run in the Champions League, where they won against Puntarenas FC of Costa Rica in a thrilling quarterfinal match. Unfortunately, on the next stage the team was eliminated by C.F Pachuca.
III. D.C. United (1999)
D.C United’s 1999 team will be remembered largely for the great chemistry between Roy Lassiter and Marco Etcheverry. The duo had a fantastic season and inspired the team for some amazing plays. That’s why, we rank them as number three in our ranking.
The team had the best overall record in the regular season for the second year, plus they won the Supporter’s Shield. United accumulated 57 points in 32 matches, a point away from the record they made a year ago.
Looking at the statistics, we can see that United had the best attack with 65 goals in 32 matches. It’s important to point that they’ve had better seasons with more than 70 goals, whereas their worst scoring season was their first when they scored only 62 times.
See the MLS All Time Top Scorers Here: https://afootballreport.com/blog/mls-all-time-top-scorers
Not only their offence was good, but their defence set a personal record back in 1999 with only 43 goals conceded in 32 matches. However, overall defence was just the sixth-best during the season. Back then, the record was held by LA Galaxy with only 29 goals conceded in 32 games.
The ’99 season will also be remembered for United’s best ever conference record against East-side teams. They won 17 out 20 matches, getting 41 of possible 60 points.
They kept the first place in the Eastern Conference throughout the whole season, except for three weeks between May 1 - May 22. All in all, a crazy season for United in which they showed potential for future growth.
II. Los Angeles Galaxy (2011)
Led by coach Bruce Arena, LA Galaxy had one of the best seasons in their history, winning the supporter’s shield and their third MLS Cup. With Landon Donovan as leading goalscorer, Galaxy’s fans enjoyed a fascinating attacking performance.
After a loss against FC Dallas on May 1, the team went for 14 consecutive games without a loss. Even though that the squad was followed by injuries, LA proved that they had the required depth to pursue the title. During that period, 9 different players scored and 4 goalkeepers were used.
After the streak was stopped in Portland, L.A Galaxy faced San Jose Earthquake, where we saw the debut goal of Robbie Keane. The MLS Cup was won with a fantastic play between Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, where the second scored the winner for 1-0 against Houston
In the Champions League, the team advanced past the group stage after being placed in the toughest group and they even reached the quarterfinals of the competition. At the end, the team managed to earn 95 points out of 144 in 48 matches.
I. Toronto FC (2017)
Everywhere in the world, winning a major trophy is an accomplishment worth praising, but there’s nothing better than winning three in a single season.
The 2017 season was truly exceptional for Toronto with only five league losses in 34 games. After a season of dominance, the culmination was the winning of the MLS Cup, which meant the first domestic treble for any MLS club in the history.
This was Toronto FC’s eleventh season in the Major League Soccer, in which they won their first Supporter’s Shield with 4-2 against New York Red Bulls. The team led by Greg Vanney is the first Canadian club that wins the title.
In October, Toronto made a drew to Atlanta and finished the regular season with the record 69 points. A month later, with a win over Columbus Crew, the team won the Eastern Conference Championship for a second year. With a 2-0 win against Seattle in December for the MLS Cup, Toronto FC became the first MLS team to complete a domestic treble. Moreover, they are the first Canadian team to win the Major League Soccer Cup.
All these spectacular statistics and the way they dominated every team was memorable. Not only that they won every possible championship, they were very close to finishing the season unbeaten with only five losses. That’s why, we believe that the first spot is reserved for Toronto FC.
When we look back in MLS history, we can see some outstanding teams. Each one deserves to be on our list for their performance, but only one team “checks all the boxes” for best MLS team.
Back in the ‘90s, D.C United set the standard with their exceptional team, who had the winner’s mentality, but can we compare them with Toronto?
The Houston Dynamo team in 2006-2007 was quite the show and fans loved them. However, we believe that they lacked both the attacking and tactical class of Toronto.
Of course, we must give it to the LA Galaxy who set the standards high with three MLS cups in four years. The chemistry between players like Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and even Beckham was truly fantastic to watch. They were a team that frightened lots of opponents, but they were highly dependant on their top players.
Until now, no other club had shown such a dominant performance. Toronto won all possible cups on a local level, set a points record in the regular season and reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
We believe that the boys deserve the first spot in our rankings, but that’s our personal opinion of course. If you believe differently, then feel free to share your thoughts with us.