Cursed? How the previous Supporters' Shield winners have fared at MLS Cup

Chris Smith
TFC was the last team to secure the Shield and MLS Cup.
TFC was the last team to secure the Shield and MLS Cup. / Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
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LAFC moved another step closer to achieving their dream of completing a Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup double with a 3-0 win over Austin FC in Sunday's Western Conference Final.

Incredibly, it's the first time the top overall team has gone all the way to MLS Cup since Toronto FC did so in 2017, and just the ninth time in MLS history.

With that in mind, the Black and Gold will have extra motivation to prove that winning the Shield is not a curse after all. But what sort of record does the top overall team hold when they reach MLS Cup?


How have the Supporters' Shield winners performed at MLS Cup?

1. DC United (1997)

The Supporters' Shield technically didn't come into existence until 1999, but previous top seeds were retroactively awarded the honor upon its creation.

After winning the first-ever MLS Cup in 1996, DC United became the first Shield winner to reach the final again just a year later and defended their title - thus completing the double - with a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids.

Goals from Anthony Sanneh and legendary forward Jaime Moreno got the job done for the Black and Red.

2. DC United (1999)

Just two years later, DC United were once again top of the overall standings and through to MLS Cup, beating the LA Galaxy 2-0 with goals from Moreno and future head coach Ben Olsen.

Another double was in the bag for United, who made amends for their 2-0 MLS Cup defeat to the Chicago Fire a year earlier.

3. Kansas City Wizards (2000)

2000 was the first MLS Cup that didn't feature DC United.

The Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) won the Supporters' Shield by just two goals ahead of the Chicago Fire, and the two sides fittingly went head-to-head in MLS Cup.

It was the Wizards who came out on top, with Miklos Molnar's early strike sealing a 1-0 win and extending the Shield winners' record to 3/3 at MLS Cup.

4. LA Galaxy (2002)

The LA Galaxy secured the first of five MLS Cups in 2002 thanks to Guatemalan forward Carlos Ruiz's goal in extra-time, sealing a 1-0 win over the New England Revolution.

LA won the Supporters' Shield by six points that year, maintaining that aforementioned 100% record.

5. Chicago Fire (2003)

The Chicago Fire beat the San Jose Earthquakes to the Supporters' Shield by two points in 2003, with both sides making it all the way to MLS Cup.

However, the Shield winners' 100% record would end here, with the Quakes winning one of the most memorable MLS Cup finals yet, beating Chicago 4-2. The one and only Landon Donovan scored twice for San Jose in that final at the Home Depot Center, which would eventually become his home stadium with the LA Galaxy.

6. Columbus Crew (2008)

Four seasons went by without a Shield winner making MLS Cup until the Columbus Crew finally got over the line in 2008.

The Crew had to fight hard against the New York Red Bulls but eventually overpowered their rivals to win 3-1, lifting the first of their two MLS Cup titles.

7. LA Galaxy (2011)

The LA Galaxy cruised to the Supporters' Shield in 2011, finishing four points clear of the Seattle Sounders with the league's best defensive record.

LA then conceded just two goals in three games to reach MLS Cup, before once again displaying that defensive prowess to beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0.

Landon Donovan was once again on the scoresheet that day, helping the Galaxy to a second double.

8. Toronto FC (2017)

The last team before LAFC to win the Shield and reach MLS Cup, Toronto FC were a force of nature in 2017.

Greg Vanney's side swept away everything before them during the regular season, winning the Shield by 12 points and scoring a whopping 74 goals in 34 games. That came after TFC had already secured the Canadian Championship in the summer.

The Reds then turned that double into a historic treble, going all the way in the Playoffs and beating the Seattle Sounders 2-0 at MLS Cup thanks to goals from Jozy Altidore and Victor Vazquez.

Incredibly, just months later, TFC came within a penalty shootout of beating Chivas in the Concacaf Champions League final having already knocked out Liga MX giants Pumas and Club America.

While it's strangely rare that the Shield winners make it to MLS Cup, they're usually pretty formidable when they do. LAFC will be keen to beat an incredibly tough Philadelphia Union side to extend the winning record to 8/9.


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