MLS Cup 1997

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MLS Cup 1997
MLS Cup 97 logo.gif
EventMLS Cup
DateOctober 26, 1997
VenueRFK Stadium, Washington, D.C., US
Man of the MatchJaime Moreno (D.C. United)
RefereeBrian Hall
WeatherRain, 46 °F (8 °C)

MLS Cup 1997 was the second edition of the MLS Cup, the post-season championship match of Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States. It was played on October 26, 1997, between defending champion and hosts D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids to determine the champion of the 1997 season. The match was played in front of 57,431 spectators at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C. and watched by an estimated television audience of 2.2 million viewers on ABC.[1]

During a rainstorm that mirrored the previous final, D.C. repeated as MLS Cup champions, winning the match 2–1 on goals by Jaime Moreno in the 37th minute and Tony Sanneh in the 68th minute. Substitute Adrián Paz scored a consolation goal for Colorado in the 75th minute, but the team were unable to draw level. The 1997 final was the first MLS Cup to be decided in regular time and the first to be won by the host team. To date, this is the first and only championship game held in D.C. to be won by a D.C.-based professional team. The crowd of 57,431 was the second-largest soccer audience in the history of RFK Stadium.[2] It was also the MLS Cup to feature two brothers on the same roster, as Chris Henderson and Sean Henderson both started the match for Colorado.

As finalists, D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids both earned a berth to play in the 1998 CONCACAF Champions' Cup.


For its second championship, Major League Soccer selected Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C., the home defending champions D.C. United, on December 17, 1996.[3] The stadium was opened in 1961 and was primarily used for football and baseball, but previously hosted the 1980 Soccer Bowl and the 1996 U.S. Open Cup Final.[4] It also hosted several matches during the 1994 FIFA World Cup and 1996 Olympics men's soccer tournament.[5]

Road to the final[edit]

The MLS Cup is the post-season championship of Major League Soccer (MLS), a professional club soccer league based in the United States that began play in 1996. The league's second season was contested by ten teams organized into two conferences, each playing 32 matches during the regular season from April to September. Teams faced opponents from the same conference four times during the regular season and from outside their conference three or four times.[6] MLS continued to use the modified version of the sport's rules, including a 35-yard (32 m) shootout to decide tied matches (for which the winners earned one point) and a countdown clock to keep time, that it adopted for the 1996 season.[7][8]

The top four teams from each conference qualified for the playoffs, which were organized into three rounds and played in October. The first two rounds, named the Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals, were home-and-away series organized into a best-of-three format with a hosting advantage for the higher seed. The winners of the Conference Finals advanced to the single-match MLS Cup final, which would be held at a predetermined neutral venue.[9]

MLS Cup 1997 was contested by defending champions and hosts D.C. United, who finished first in the regular season standings, and the Colorado Rapids, who finished fourth in the Western Conference. The two finalists swept through the playoffs by winning the Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals in two legs. During three regular season meetings between the two teams, D.C. won 5–2 in April and 5–0 in June, while Colorado won in a shootout following a 2–2 draw in August.[10]

D.C. United ended its 22-match unbeaten streak with a loss to the Kansas City Wizards on June 21, 1997.[citation needed] The Colorado Rapids were the first team to advance to the MLS Cup final despite a losing record during the regular season.[11] The Rapids were labeled as the underdogs entering the MLS Cup final, having upset Kansas City and Dallas in the playoffs following a lackluster end to their regular season.[12]

Summary of results[edit]

Note: In all results below, the score of the finalist is given first (H: home; A: away).
D.C. United Round Colorado Rapids
1st place in Eastern Conference
Pos. Club Pld. W SW L Pts.
1 D.C. United 32 17 4 11 55
2 Tampa Bay Mutiny 32 14 3 15 45
3 Columbus Crew 32 12 3 17 39
4 New England Revolution 32 11 4 17 37
5 NY/NJ MetroStars 32 11 2 19 35
Regular season 4th place in Western Conference
Pos. Club Pld. W SW L Pts.
1 Kansas City Wizards 32 14 7 11 49
2 Los Angeles Galaxy 32 14 2 16 44
3 Dallas Burn 32 13 3 16 42
4 Colorado Rapids 32 12 2 18 38
5 San Jose Clash 32 9 3 20 30
Opponent 1st leg 2nd leg 3rd leg MLS Cup Playoffs Opponent 1st leg 2nd leg 3rd leg
New England Revolution (2–0) 4–1 (H) 1–1 (4–3 SO) (A) Conference Semifinals Kansas City Wizards (2–0) 3–0 (A) 3–2 (H)
Columbus Crew (2–0) 3–2 (H) 1–0 (A) Conference Finals Dallas Burn (2–0) 1–0 (A) 2–1 (H)

Match details[edit]

D.C. United2–1Colorado Rapids
Report Paz Goal 75'
D.C. United
Colorado Rapids
GK 1 United States Scott Garlick Yellow card 20'
DF 12 United States Jeff Agoos
DF 18 Colombia Carlos Llamosa
DF 23 United States Eddie Pope
DF 24 United States David Vaudreuil
MF 10 Bolivia Marco Etcheverry
MF 6 United States John Harkes (c)
MF 20 United States Tony Sanneh
MF 16 United States Richie Williams
FW 21 El Salvador Raúl Díaz Arce
FW 9 Bolivia Jaime Moreno
Head coach:
United States Bruce Arena
GK 1 United States Marcus Hahnemann
DF 12 United States Matt Kmosko
DF 21 United States Chris Martinez Substituted off 59'
DF 4 United States Steve Trittschuh
DF 2 United States Peter Vermes
MF 17 United States Marcelo Balboa (c) Yellow card 86'
MF 8 United States Paul Bravo Substituted off 27'
MF 19 United States Chris Henderson
MF 3 United States Sean Henderson Substituted off 81'
FW 6 Mexico David Patiño
FW 10 United States Steve Rammel
FW Jamaica Wolde Harris Substituted in 27'
MF Uruguay Adrián Paz Substituted in 59'
MF United States Ross Paule Substituted in 81'
Head coach:
United States Glenn Myernick

MLS Cup Most Valuable Player:
Jaime Moreno (D.C. United)

Assistant referees:
United States Steve Olson
United States Greg Barkey

Match rules


Statistic DC United Colorado Rapids
Total shots 16 7
Shots on target 10 8
Saves 6 9
Corner kicks 6 10
Fouls committed 14 14
Offsides 8 9
Yellow cards 1 1
Red cards 0 0


  1. ^ "Sounders score big on TV in MLS Cup final". Kitsap Sun. Associated Press. December 13, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  2. ^ Romero, José Miguel. "D.C. United takes second consecutive cup in 1997". Seattle Times.
  3. ^ "MLS likes weekend matches". The Mercury News. December 18, 1996. p. D2.
  4. ^ Goff, Steven (October 31, 1996). "United Captures Another Title". The Washington Post. p. C1.
  5. ^ Goff, Steven (October 20, 2017). "American soccer made its home at aging, funky RFK Stadium". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  6. ^ Jones, Grahame L. (December 5, 1995). "Major League Soccer Sets Inaugural Schedule". Los Angeles Times. p. C5. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  7. ^ Macguire, Eoghan (March 6, 2015). "MLS at 20: Sunrise on football's final frontier?". CNN. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  8. ^ Dure, Beau (2010). Long-Range Goals: The Success Story of Major League Soccer. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books. pp. 22–24. ISBN 978-1-59797-509-4. OCLC 500783910.
  9. ^ Rodriguez, Alicia (October 21, 2015). "Audi MLS Cup Playoffs: Tracing the evolution of the postseason format since 1996". Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  10. ^ Timmermann, Tom (October 26, 1997). "In Final, 'White Shoes' Rapids Hope To Remain On Yellow Brick Road". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. F2. Retrieved May 5, 2019 – via Free to read
  11. ^ Sulat, Nate (November 9, 2010). "History of conference championship upsets". Colorado Rapids. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  12. ^ Bachelor, Blaine (October 26, 1997). "Underdog Rapids play for title". The Tampa Tribune. p. 10. Retrieved May 5, 2019 – via Free to read