The Most Watched MLS Cup Finals: Ranking the Top Six Matches with Record Viewership

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

Since its start in 1993, Major League Soccer (MLS) has been slowly gaining popularity and recognition in the world of American sports. The MLS Cup Final, the league’s championship game, developed into an annual spectacle as it expanded and evolved, showcasing top soccer talent and winning over millions of fans.

Throughout its history, a few championship games have stood out as pivotal occasions, drawing astronomical viewership and cementing their places in sports history. Let’s examine the top five MLS Cup Finals in terms of viewership that have had a lasting impact on American soccer.

6. 2016: Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders

Viewership: 2.0 million | Broadcast: Fox/Unimás

The 2016 MLS Cup Final between Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders was pivotal for the league. The match featured two fervent fan bases and marked the crowning of a new champion, as neither team had won the title before. Broadcasting on Fox and Unimás, this final’s 2.0 million viewers celebrated the league’s growing parity and the thrilling uncertainty that draws sports enthusiasts.

5. 2001: San Jose Earthquakes vs LA Galaxy

Viewership: 2.0 million | Broadcast: ABC

California soccer fervour took centre stage in 2001 as the San Jose Earthquakes faced off against the LA Galaxy. With 2.0 million viewers tuned in to ABC, this rivalry-fueled encounter epitomised the regional passions that can drive a league’s popularity and showcased the intense dedication of American soccer fans.

4. 2022: LAFC vs Philadelphia Union

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

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

Fast-forwarding to the 2020s, the MLS Cup Final between LAFC and the Philadelphia Union in 2022 proved that the league’s appeal was still soaring. Broadcasting on multiple networks, including FOX, Univision, and TUDN, the match drew a substantial viewership of 2.2 million. This modern clash encapsulated the league’s efforts to expand its fan base and become a staple of American sports culture.

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3. 1998: Chicago Fire vs DC United

Viewership: 2.2 million | Broadcast: ABC

The MLS Cup Final in 1998 took an intriguing turn when Chicago Fire arrived on the scene to challenge DC United’s hegemony. With 2.2 million viewers tuning in to ABC, this titanic showdown demonstrated the league’s competitive development and hinted at the variety of stories that future championship games would incorporate into the fabric of MLS history.

2. 1997: DC United vs Colorado Rapids

Viewership: 2.6 million | Broadcast: ABC

Following the success of the inaugural final, the 1997 championship match continued to draw attention. Once again, DC United found themselves in the spotlight, this time facing off against the Colorado Rapids. With 2.6 million viewers glued to their screens, ABC broadcast a spectacle showcasing American soccer’s growing appeal and solidifying the MLS Cup Final’s place on the nation’s sporting calendar.


1. 1996: DC United vs LA Galaxy

Viewership: 3.1 million | Broadcast: ABC

For American football, the 1996 MLS Cup Final was a watershed event. The first championship game, which pitted DC United against the LA Galaxy, laid the foundation for the league’s future success. The fight between these two MLS heavyweights was long remembered as one of the most memorable moments in league history thanks to the 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 have succeeded in making a name for themselves in the hearts of millions of people in a nation where conventional sports are the norm. These five finals with the highest viewership have been crucial in establishing soccer’s relevance and significance in the American athletic landscape through memorable contests, burgeoning rivalries, and historic moments. Future MLS Cup Finals can only be expected to draw even more viewers and have classic moments as the league develops.

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