2009 Season Recap

The 2009 season heralded a new addition to MLS, Seattle Sounders FC. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t continuity.

Sounders FC, like Toronto FC had done in 2007, quickly became renowned for their loud, raucous and plentiful supporters. And as the 2008 MLS Cup finalist New York Red Bulls figured out in a 3-0 loss in their first game of the season, Qwest Field was not going to be an easy place to play, particularly with former Columbus Crew head coach Sigi Schmid taking command in the Emerald City.

Columbus, meanwhile, secured their second straight Supporters’ Shield and hoped to add another MLS Cup to the trophy cabinet. The reigning champions got off to an inauspicious start in 2009, coming out of the blocks with an eight-game winless streak. Towards the end of July, however, Columbus caught fire to win five straight and eight of their last 13 to pip the hard-charging LA Galaxy for the honors.

Columbus’ 2008 Cup opponent – the Red Bulls – ended up on the opposite end of the spectrum. Despite a 12-goal season from Juan Pablo Angel and 11 assists by Dave van den Bergh, New York finished the year with just five wins, the fewest in club history.

Veteran striker Jeff Cunningham (left) stole the goalscoring show in 2009. Playing a full season with one team for the first time since 2006, the FC Dallas hitman notched a career-high 17 goals. Right behind with 16 was the Colorado Rapids robust striker, Conor Casey. And just as Casey missed out by the skin of his teeth on the Golden Boot, the Rapids missed out on a playoff berth courtesy of a loss in their season finale against rival Real Salt Lake.

Where the MLS originals missed out, however, Sounders FC became just the second expansion team in league history to make the postseason in their maiden campaign. But despite finishing just two points behind Columbus, Seattle were bounced from the playoffs in the first round.

The Crew were also knocked off in the first round, upset by Real Salt Lake on what would be a fairytale first trip to the final in club history. Taking on the two-time MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy in the first final at Qwest Field, RSL rode the support of thousands of Sounders fans to an epic shootout victory to earn their first MLS title.

2009 MLS standings


Most Valuable Player: Landon Donovan – LA Galaxy
Goalkeeper of the Year: Zach Thornton – Chivas USA
Golden Boot: Jeff Cunningham – FC Dallas, 17 goals
Rookie of the Year: Omar Gonzalez – LA Galaxy
Defender of the Year: Chad Marshall – Columbus Crew
Goal of the Year: Landon Donovan – LA Galaxy vs. New England Revolution – August 8, 2009
Coach of the Year: Bruce Arena – LA Galaxy

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