20 W, 12 L
1st, Eastern Conference
The Tampa Bay Mutiny did everything but win the MLS championship in 1996. The Mutiny won the Eastern Conference regular season championship with a league-best 20-12 record. Tampa Bay also scored more goals (66) than any MLS team.
Leading the way was 1996 MLS Honda Most Valuable Player Carlos Valderrama, the world-renowned Colombian National Team captain who has 95 caps for his country. Valderrama had four goals and 17 assists in 23 games for the Mutiny.
Tampa Bay also had the league's Budweiser scoring champion in U.S. National Team forward Roy Lassiter, who scored 27 goals and four assists for 58 points. Midfielder Steve Ralston won the league's Bandai rookie of the year award, playing in 31 of the Mutiny's 32 games and scoring 16 points on seven goals and two assists.
Valderrama, Lassiter, defenders Cle Kooiman and Steve Pittman, midfielder Martin Vasquez and goalkeeper Mark Dougherty were all on the Eastern Conference All-Star team that beat the West, 3-2, at Giants Stadium in front of 78,416 on July 14. Valderrama had two assists and carted off MVP honors while Pittman scored the game-winning goal off a Valderrama pass and Dougherty was the winning goalkeeper.
The 1996 Mutiny - Wire-to-Wire
It was quite a first year for the Tampa Bay Mutiny.
The Mutiny dominated the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer like few professional sports teams have done in their own sport. Twenty years from now...maybe even 50 years from now, MLS fans will look back at 1996 and marvel at how the Mutiny built their team and then saw a lot of hard work pay off in a plethora of team honors. To wit:
- Best record in MLS - 20-12;
- Most regular season points - 58;
- Most goals - 66;
- Best goals/goals against differential (66/51 = +15);
- First team to sweep a four-game series (vs. Colorado, last game on August 3);
- First team to clinch a MLS playoff berth (August 17);
- First team to clinch a MLS regular season conference title (September 12);
- Wins against every team in MLS;
- Best home record in MLS (12-4);
- A .500 road record (8-8) - one of only two MLS teams (Los Angeles, the other) to break even away from home
- A league high 14-0 when leading at the half;
- A solid 17-3 when scoring the first goal;
- And, most importantly, either sharing or holding first place from April 13 through September 21,