The best six MLS Cup Finals with the highest viewership in history

The winner of the Eastern Conference Final faces the winner of the Western Conference Final in the MLS Cup Final

Since its inception in 1993, Major League Soccer (MLS) has slowly gained popularity and recognition in the world of American sports. The MLS Cup Final, the league’s championship game, has evolved into an annual spectacle as it expands and evolves, showcasing soccer’s best talent and drawing in millions of fans.

Throughout its history, some championship matches have emerged as pivotal occasions, drawing astronomical viewership and cementing their places in the sport’s history. Let’s examine the top five MLS Cup Finals in terms of viewership that have had a lasting impact on American football.

6. 2016: Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders

Viewership: 2.0 million | Broadcast: Fox/Unimás

The 2016 MLS Cup Final between Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders was pivotal in the league. The match featured two passionate fan bases and saw the crowning of a new champion, as neither team had won the title before. Broadcast on Fox and Unimás, the 2.0 million viewers of this Final celebrated the league’s growing parity and the exciting uncertainty that attracts sports fans.

5. 2001: San Jose Earthquakes vs Los Angeles Galaxy

Viewership: 2.0 million | Broadcast: ABC

California soccer fervor took center stage in 2001 when the San Jose Earthquakes faced off against the Los Angeles Galaxy. With 2.0 million viewers tuning in to ABC, this rivalry-fueled showdown embodied the regional sentiment that can boost the league’s popularity and demonstrated the intense devotion of American football fans.

4/2022: LAFC vs. Philadelphia Union

MLS Cup 2022
Gareth Bale and Chiellini won the trophy with Los Angeles FC

Viewership: 2.2 million | Broadcast: FOX / Univision / TUDN

Fast forward to the 2020 decade, and the MLS Cup final between LAFC and Philadelphia Union in 2022 proved that the league’s attractiveness was still high. Broadcast on multiple networks, including FOX, Univision, and TUDN, the match drew a huge viewership of 2.2 million. This modern clash epitomized the league’s efforts to expand its fan base and became a staple of American sports culture.

3. 1998: Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United

Viewership: 2.2 million | Broadcast: ABC

The MLS Cup Final in 1998 took an interesting turn when the Chicago Fire arrived on the scene to challenge the dominance of D.C. United. With 2.2 million viewers tuning in to ABC, this giant showdown demonstrated the league’s competitive evolution and hinted at the variety of stories future championship games would weave into the fabric of MLS history.

2. 1997: D.C. United vs. Colorado Rapids

Viewership: 2.6 million | Broadcast: ABC

After the success of the inaugural final, the 1997 championship match continued to draw attention. Once again, D.C. United found themselves in the spotlight, this time facing the Colorado Rapids. With 2.6 million viewers glued to their screens, ABC has aired a show that showcases American football’s growing appeal and cements the MLS Cup Final’s place in the country’s sports calendar.

1. 1996: DC United vs LA Galaxy

Viewership: 3.1 million | Broadcast: ABC

For American soccer, the 1996 MLS Cup Final was a deciding event. The first championship game, pitting D.C. United against the Los Angeles Galaxy, laid the foundation for the league’s future success. The battle between these two MLS giants is remembered as one of the most memorable moments in league history thanks to an astonishing 3.1 million spectators who tuned in to ABC to witness the beginning of a new era in American sports.

The MLS Cup Finals has made a name for itself in the hearts of millions of people in a country where traditional sports are the norm. These five highest-watched Finals were crucial in proving the relevance and importance of soccer to the American sports landscape through unforgettable contests, thriving rivalries, and historic moments. Future MLS Cup Finals are expected to attract more viewers and classic moments as the league evolves.

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