As the MLS season heats up, fans are treated to a thrilling display of skills, frills, thrills, and strategic finesse.
With the league expanding and teams ramping up their game, the excitement only promises to soar higher – just ask the ever-impressive LA Galaxy.
But amidst all the action, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the MLS’s rich history and ponder the question of who reigns supreme.
And so, to satisfy your curiosity, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 best MLS teams in history, carefully curated based on their record-breaking number of MLS titles and impressive track records.
MLS Title Wins: 6 (2002, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2022)
The LA Galaxy is a seasoned Major League Soccer franchise that proudly calls the Western Conference it’s home.
Established in 1994, they were one of the league’s original ten members, and since then, they have built a reputation for themselves as one of the most successful teams in MLS history.
Owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group, the Galaxy shares the spotlight with some of Los Angeles’ other sports franchises, such as the Lakers and Kings.
With five MLS Cups and four appearances in the final, the team has consistently remained a force to be reckoned with.
They have clinched the Western Conference regular-season title eight times, four Supporters’ Shields, two U.S. Open Cups, and one CONCACAF Champions’ Cup title.
The Galaxy’s trophy is not entirely perfect, though; they were awarded the MLS Wooden Spoon in 2017 for finishing last in the MLS table. Despite this, the team remains a giant in the league.
In 2007, Herbalife signed a massive five-year deal with the Galaxy worth between $4–5 million yearly to be the club’s major shirt sponsor.
The same year, the Galaxy made an enormous splash by signing David Beckham from Real Madrid.
The debut match was played at the Home Depot Center, where a record-breaking crowd of nearly 35,000, including a smattering of celebrities, watched Beckham play.
The team’s navy blue, gold, and white color scheme were implemented as part of a re-branding effort in 2007, spearheaded by then-GM Alexi Lalas, to coincide with Beckham’s arrival.
The white jerseys are worn for home games, while the blue serves as the away uniform.
MLS Title Wins: 4 (1996, 1997, 1999, 2004)
D.C. United competes in the Eastern Conference of the highest level of soccer in the United States, Major League Soccer (MLS).
The team was founded in 1995 as one of the league’s founding members and has played in every season since its creation in 1996.
The club boasts an impressive track record, having secured four MLS Cups (championships), four Supporters Shields (regular season titles), three U.S. Open Cups (domestic cups), and six Eastern Conference championships.
D.C. United has also achieved the CONCACAF Champions League title and the Copa Interamericana, making them the only American team to have attained the latter accolade.
They are tied as the joint-most successful club overall in American soccer, alongside the New York Cosmos and LA Galaxy.
Under Olsen’s management during the 2010s and early 2020s, D.C. United’s performance was lackluster, with only one major trophy and several playoff misses, including two bottom-of-the-league finishes.
Despite this, the club was still able to attract high-profile acquisitions such as Wayne Rooney, while also fostering the development of homegrown talents like Bill Hamid, Andy Najar, and Kevin Paredes, who made valuable contributions to the team.
D.C. United’s primary colors are black and white, although the squad is affectionately referred to as “Black and Red.”
The team uses red as an accent on their home jersey, while white serves as the main color for their away uniform.
The club’s colors and original logo were revealed on October 17, 1995, during a presentation in New York City, alongside the other ten original teams in the league.
MLS Title Wins: 2 (2016, 2019)
The Seattle Sounders, a team hailing from the Western Conference, proudly compete in the highest echelon of professional soccer in the United States – Major League Soccer (MLS).
Founded in 2007 and starting play in 2009 as an MLS expansion team, the majority owner of the team is held by Adrian Hanauer, with other notables such as Drew Carey and the estate of Paul Allen holding minority stakes.
The Sounders play their home games at the impressive Lumen Field, with a seating capacity of 37,722 for most matches, which makes the crowd roar all the louder.
The Sounders are no strangers to success, boasting the remarkable record of having qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs every season since their MLS inception in 2009 – the longest such record in the league’s history.
They have also competed in the CONCACAF Champions League six times and made history by becoming the first MLS team to win the modern version of the competition in 2022, adding to their already-storied legacy.
The Sounders’ badge design is particularly noteworthy, featuring a heraldic shield with two layers that symbolize “the partnership between the ownership, the community, the players, and the fans.”
It also includes the iconic Space Needle, a beloved symbol of Seattle.
The official team colors are Sounder Blue, representing the waters of the Puget Sound; Rave Green, signifying the forests of the Pacific Northwest; and Cascade Shale, representing the Cascade Range to the east of Seattle – all of which give a nod to the team’s Pacific Northwest roots.
MLS Title Wins: 2 (2000, 2013)
Sporting Kansas City ply its trade in Major League Soccer (MLS), and is located in the Kansas City metro area. Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, is where the administrative offices are situated.
Initially known as Kansas City Wizards in 1997, the club underwent a rebranding in November 2010 when it moved to its new home, Children’s Mercy Park.
SKC boasts a rich history of successes, including winning the MLS Cup twice (in 2000 and 2013), the Supporters’ Shield in 2000, and the U.S. Open Cup in 2004, 2012, 2015, and 2017.
From 2011 to 2018, the team made the playoffs every year and secured four trophies, including the 2013 MLS Cup, dominating their conference for eight years.
While they finished at the top of their conference thrice during the regular season, they fell short of winning the Supporters’ Shield.
However, SKC emerged victorious or finished first in six of their conferences throughout the decade.
Sporting Kansas City’s official colors are “sporting blue” and “dark indigo,” with “lead.”
The primary logo depicts a teardrop-shaped shield with a stylized representation of the Kansas-Missouri state line.
The “Kansas” side features “sporting blue” stripes, while the “Missouri” side has an interlocking “SC.” The shield’s contour alludes to the team’s former logo used during their time as the “Kansas City Wizards.”
MLS Title Wins: 2 (2008, 2020)
The Columbus Crew is a soccer club that competes in Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Eastern Conference, having been one of the ten original teams in the league’s inaugural season back in 1996.
Currently owned by an ownership group led by the Haslam family and former team physician Pete Edwards, the Crew play their home matches at Lower.com Field, which opened in 2021.
The team has amassed six major trophies, including two MLS Cup titles, three Supporters’ Shields, and one U.S. Open Cup.
They have qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League four times, with their recent win in the Campeones Cup in 2021.
As trailblazers in the league, the Crew was the first team to build a soccer-specific stadium in the United States, setting a benchmark for others to follow.
Despite undergoing a rebranding and flirtations with relocation to Austin, the Crew’s loyal supporters, The Nordecke, remained steadfastly loyal to their home city.
Sporting black and gold, the team’s signature bright yellow home jersey with black trim has become iconic, nicknamed the “banana kit” or “canary kit” by fans.
However, the away jersey has recently evolved to include more white with yellow and black trim or stripes, though the historically black jerseys are rarely seen due to the United States’ heat.
MLS Title Wins: 2 (2001, 2003)
The Earthquakes are a Major League Soccer (MLS) club and member of the Western Conference since 1996, initially competing under the name San Jose Clash.
The team’s success includes two MLS Cup titles (2001, 2003) and two Supporters’ Shields (2005, 2012), as well as a quarterfinals appearance in the 2002 CONCACAF Champions Cup.
The Earthquakes also enjoy a fierce rivalry with the LA Galaxy known as the California Clásico.
After a two-year break, the Earthquakes resumed play in 2008, and since 2015, they have been hosting their home games at the Earthquakes Stadium.
Previously, they played at Buck Shaw Stadium on the Santa Clara University campus in Santa Clara, California, until the Avaya Stadium was established in 2015 through a sponsorship deal.
The Earthquakes have consistently sported blue and black in their color scheme, with occasional white highlights.
The original logo of the San Jose Clash featured a stylized scorpion in black and red with a white ‘clash’ wordmark.
In 2000, when the team was rebranded as the Earthquakes, their logo was transformed into an inverted triangular shield featuring a soccer ball invoking the rising sun used in the logo for the City of San Jose, a stylized ‘Earthquakes’ wordmark, and a blue, black, white, and silver color scheme.
The three points of the shield symbolized the three largest Bay Area communities: San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland.
MLS Title Wins: 2 (2006, 2007)
The Houston Dynamo also competes in Major League Soccer as a member of the Western Conference.
Founded on December 15, 2005, the club relocated from San Jose after the 2005 season by their former owners.
Now, majority ownership is held by Ted Segal, who fully controls ownership after buying out his remaining minority partners in August 2022. He’s in the driver’s seat now.
Dynamo’s winning record boasts two MLS Cup titles in their first two seasons of 2006 and 2007, as well as a U.S. Open Cup victory in 2018.
However, they’ve been MLS Cup runners-up twice in 2011 and 2012, and Supporters’ Shield runners-up once in 2008. It’s like winning silver medals, but way cooler.
They’ve also reached the final of the now-defunct North American SuperLiga, finishing as runners-up after a defeat against the New England Revolution. Close, but no cigar.
The official colors of the Dynamo crest are Wildcatter orange, Space City blue, and Raven black.
The star on the original crest nods to the Houston, Texas flag or the “Houston 1836” crest concept. The crest also features a soccer ball with a star in the middle from the “1836” logo, although the shadow has been changed to Space City blue.
But in 2020, the club rebranded as Houston Dynamo FC, introducing a new hexagonal logo to represent the Dynamo’s founding in 2006 and to reference the six wards that made up the original layout of the city.
The new crest also features channels within the interlocking monogram, referencing Houston’s bayou system and representing Bayou City’s waterways. Nice touch.
MLS Title Wins: 1 (2017)
Toronto FC (TFC) is a Canadian professional soccer club that competes in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer.
The team plays its home games at BMO Field, located at Exhibition Place on the west shore of Downtown Toronto.
Founded in 2007 as an expansion team, Toronto FC became the first Canadian franchise in the MLS.
The club has since achieved impressive feats, including winning the domestic treble in 2017, consisting of the MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield, and Canadian Championship.
TFC has claimed eight Canadian Championships and finished as runners-up in the 2016 and 2019 MLS Cups, as well as the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League.
The franchise was acquired by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) for US$10 million after being awarded a team by the MLS in 2005.
The club’s name was decided following an online consultation period during which fans voted for their favorite option. As of 2023, TFC is valued at US$690 million, making it the sixth most valuable club in the MLS. Furthermore, it has the highest player payroll in the league.
TFC’s official colors feature red as the primary color with black, grey, dark grey, and white as secondary colors.
The home jersey consists of red horizontal bands of alternating lighter and darker shades, black sleeves with red trim, and a vertical black band running down the length of the jersey under each sleeve.
The away jersey features white jerseys with a large red horizontal band below a smaller blue band across the chest, complemented by white socks with blue trim, and either red or blue shorts, depending on the opponent’s uniform.
MLS Title Wins: 1 (2015)
The Timbers kick their way to glory in Major League Soccer (MLS) as a proud member of the Western Conference.
Their home is Providence Park, which they settled into following their inaugural season as an expansion team in 2011.
Merritt Paulson, the majority owner of Peregrine Sports, holds the team’s operating rights, along with those of the Portland Thorns, a women’s team established in 2012.
After finishing the 2013 season in first place in the Western Conference, the Timbers clinched their first-ever playoff appearance and a CONCACAF Champions League berth.
Their achievements skyrocketed in 2015 when they won the Western Conference Finals, their first major trophy, the MLS Cup, and became the first team in Cascadia to do so.
The team also topped the Western Conference table once again in 2017, cementing their status as MLS elites.
The Timbers’ MLS logo inherits the legacy of the former USL design.
Its circular shape is symbolic of unity and perfection, nodding to the original crest.
The axe pays homage to the logging industry, while three chevrons, shaped to look like a pine tree, represent the Timbers’ membership in three separate leagues: the original North American Soccer League, the United Soccer Leagues, and Major League Soccer.
The colors, ponderosa green and moss green are a nod to the lush forests of Oregon.
MLS Title Wins: 1 (2018)
Atlanta United, a dynamic team that won’t settle for last place but did on my list, competes in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer (MLS).
Founded in 2014, the team launched into action as an expansion team in 2017, making it the first-ever MLS franchise to call Atlanta home.
Their home turf is the impressive Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which they share with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, and both teams are owned by Arthur Blank, co-founder of The Home Depot.
Adding to their MLS dominance, Atlanta United 2 is their reserve team that competes in the highly competitive MLS Next Pro.
With a fan base that’s as passionate as they are loud, Atlanta United has set numerous league records. Their impressive ticket sales have surpassed 36,000, and they’ve set single-game attendance records with 72,548 cheering fans in the stands.
In 2021, Sportico estimated the team’s value at a staggering $845 million, ranking them as the second most valuable team in the league.
Atlanta United’s bold team name, iconic logo, and striking colors were unveiled to the public on July 7, 2015. The circular logo was inspired by the city’s seal and Olympic heritage, with a big and bold “A” at the center.
Five black and red stripes sit behind the “A” and represent the team’s five pillars: unity, determination, community, excellence, and innovation.
Their official team colors are black, red (or “Victory Red” as they like to call it), and gold, symbolizing strength, passion, and excellence, respectively.
Is MLS Competitive?
Major League Soccer (MLS) is a fiercely competitive soccer league that ranks second in North America, just behind Liga MX.
The league is divided into two conferences, the Eastern and Western Conferences, with 13 and 14 teams respectively, making for a balanced and exciting competition.
MLS has become a magnet for some of the world’s top soccer players, such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Beckham, Gonzalo Higuain, and Carlos Vela, adding to the league’s allure and status.
Compared to other European clubs, MLS has not been one-sided, except for the early years when DC United and LA Galaxy had a stronghold on major trophies.
In recent years, however, the league has witnessed a more intriguing and dynamic competition.
Final Whistle – MLS Best Team In History
Inarguably, the LA Galaxy takes the top spot as the premier MLS team with their impressive five MLS Cup Championships.
However, with the MLS being a relatively fresh-faced league, there’s certainly scope for change with new teams set to join the fray in the coming years.
Who knows which club will take the throne next? The suspense is killing me.