Toronto FC's nail-biting triumph over the Montreal Impact in the Eastern Conference Championship has earned the Reds their first MLS Cup final appearance in a decade of play dating back to their MLS expansion debut in 2007. It's been nearly as long a wait for their opponents on Dec. 10, 2009 MLS entrants the Seattle Sounders, who are also cup final debutants.
So with these two sides finally reaching the big game, which MLS club carries the dubious distinction of longest drought since their last MLS Cup trip?
It turns out that the honor is shared.
Both the Chicago Fire and San Jose Earthquakes have to hark way back to 2003 – when they battled for MLS Cup at the freshly-built StubHub Center, known as the Home Depot Center at that time – to recall their last dance in the title game. Led by a young Landon Donovan, the Quakes won that one, a 4-2 shootout that remains the highest-scoring MLS Cup to date.
The Fire and Quakes had been regular qualifiers for the final up to that point, with the Fire having won it in their inaugural 1998 game and falling to Kansas City in 2001, and San Jose having won the league in 2001. But they've been strangers ever since – though the Quakes have the 2012 Supporters' Shield to console themselves with, while Chicago haven't even made it to the playoffs since '12.
It's been nearly as long a wait for D.C. United, who haven't reached MLS Cup since they won their fourth league title in 2004.
Among teams to have entered the league more recently than TFC, Montreal, NYCFC, Orlando City, Philadelphia and Vancouver still have yet to qualify for the MLS Cup final. None of the contracted sides Chivas USA, Miami Fusion FC and Tampa Bay Mutiny reached the final.
At least Chicago and San Jose can point to the championship stars on their chest, though. Their fellow founding members in New England, Dallas and New York have all reached the MLS Cup final in the past decade, but still have yet to win the whole thing in their two decades of existence.