Thursday night’s absolutely epic Knockout Round match between the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City was one of the great contests in MLS history.
The insane atmosphere, absurd goals and, oh yeah, that 22-player penalty-kick shootout got us thinking … What are the wildest MLS Cup Playoff matches in league history?
We’ve listed four of our most memorable all-time MLS postseason matches below. Read, watch and enjoy the trip down memory lane:
San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy – 2003 Western Conference Semifinals
Down 4-0 on aggregate with less than 70 minutes to play in the second leg of their Western Conference playoff series, the Quakes needed a miracle. It arrived in the form of Jamil Walker, a little-used rookie who produced a goal and an assist during a furious comeback capped by a sudden-death winner in extra time from another unlikely hero, Brazilian forward Rodrigo Faria.
D.C. United vs. New England Revolution – 2004 Eastern Conference Final
RFK was rocking as Ben Olsen, Jaime Moreno and D.C. United surged ahead of young Clint Dempsey and his New England Revolution on three occasions, only for the underdogs to claw their way back into it over and over and over again. An exhilarating 3-3 draw had to be decided by penalty kick shootout, where Nick Rimando began his own personal PK legend with a clutch save on Dempsey to send United to the MLS Cup final, where they beat Kansas City for their fourth MLS title.
MetroStars vs. New England Revolution – 2005 Eastern Conference Semifinals
The final game in MetroStars history was one of the most Metro of them all. The MetroStars entered the second leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against New England with a 1-0 aggregate lead, then went up 2-0 with a half hour remaining when Youri Djokaeff connected on the counter. They couldn’t hang on at Gillette Stadium, however, giving up three goals in the final 22 minutes to lose the series. They’d lose their original name shortly thereafter, coming back in 2006 as the New York Red Bulls.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake – 2013 MLS Cup Final
Alvaro Saborio put Real Salt Lake ahead early in the second half on a brutally cold day at Sporting Park, then saw teammates Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman bounce shots off the post that would’ve put the game out of reach. Aurelien Collin took advantage of the reprieve, heading home a late equalizer just minutes after he narrowly avoided a second yellow card. Collin stepped up again in the shootout, hitting the decisive penalty in a wild, 10-round epic that ended with Sporting lifting their second MLS Cup.