Nashville SC became the latest MLS club to record an official song this year when it collaborated with Judah & the Lion on its anthem “Never Give Up on You.” The band performed the anthem live before Nashville’s MLS home opener last month and the hope is that the song will become a mainstay at the club's games for years to come.
But where does the song rank among the surprisingly long and, at times, obscure list of MLS songs that came before it? Below you’ll find our rankings of the 25 best MLS songs, both official and unofficial, in the league’s 25-year history. For the sake of these rankings, we’ll only focus on original songs recorded specifically for MLS teams. That means no “Wonderwall” (sorry, Minnesota United fans) and no team chants (OK, OK, one chant).
The rankings are based only on the quality of the song and don’t factor in if the song makes for a good sing-along or if it’s currently part of the MLS game day experience. This list also doesn’t care if a song is considered uncool because what kind of person bases their music taste entirely on what’s trendy? So leave your music snobbery at the door and follow us down this rabbit hole of MLS original songs.
*Part of the 2007 MLS/Adidas Represent campaign
*25. “DC United” - Bad Brains (D.C. United)
Bad Brains are hardcore punk pioneers. Everyone from Nirvana to The Weeknd have named the D.C. band as an influence. It’s no wonder United fans were thrilled that Bad Brains were repping their club. And sure, the end result was far from Bad Brain’s best work, but the song did give us the rhyme “It’s like Busta: What the dealio? Luciano Emilio/Golden goal. Hat-trick. Jaime Moreno.”
*24. “Goal!” - Rose Hill Drive (Colorado Rapids)
This guitar-heavy tune was made specifically for the Rapids — you just wouldn’t know it from the lack of Rapids references in the song.
*23. “Revolution” - Damone (New England Revolution)
You know those songs you hear when you’re choosing your car and racecourse in an arcade racing game? This New England Revolution anthem sounds a lot like that.
22. “Un Hymne Pour L’Impact de Montreal” - Radio Radio (Montreal Impact)
Radio Radio’s Jacques Alphonse Doucet became an Impact season ticket holder in 2013 and then two years later was recording the club’s official anthem in Acadian French with his Canadian electro-rap group. “We wanted to write a song that the 12th player could sing and ignite his fellow team members and propel them to victory,” said Doucet, via a press release at the time. Unfortunately, the song lacks that certain je ne sais quoi and didn’t catch on like Doucet had hoped.
*21. “H-O-O-P-S, yes!” - The Polyphonic Spree (FC Dallas)
It seems odd that a choral symphonic rock band known for wearing robes would try its hand at a sports anthem. But you have to remember The Polyphonic Spree didn’t have a huge presence on commercial radio and needed to get its music out there in all sorts of different ways. That often meant lending its songs out to film, TV, ads, or, in this case, recording a lively but not overly memorable FC Dallas anthem.
*20. “It’s Your Crew” - RJD2 (Columbus Crew)
You think you know where the Crew anthem is going after the opening chant, but you would likely be wrong. The song takes an unexpected detour, crossing genres such as rap, funk and electronic along the way. Here’s some random trivia: In addition to recording the Crew anthem, RJD2 is also behind the “Mad Men” theme.
19. “New York City All the Way” - Sarah Packiam and TCM featuring MC Sterlin (NYCFC)
Everything about this unofficial NYCFC anthem screams 1990s, right down to the Chumbawamba vibe. Seriously, VH1 built an entire channel based off of songs like this back in the day. It’s hard to believe this peppy song came out in 2015 (in New York of all places). Also surprising: The music video prominently features a carefree David Villa singing and dancing. But it’s a good “surprising.”
*18. “Here Comes the Fire” - OK Go (Chicago Fire)
How popular was this Fire anthem with the players? Chris Rolfe — who ranks third all-time in goals scored for the Fire — said recently, “I don’t know that song at all.” But Rolfe wasn’t completely dismissive of the rock song by OK Go, a band best known for its viral music videos: “It wasn’t as cheesy as some other anthems I’ve heard.”
*17. “We Are the Galaxy” - Kinky (LA Galaxy)
Unlike the other artists who took part in the MLS Represent campaign, Kinky guitarist Carlos Chairez came right out and admitted he wasn’t a huge fan of the team whose anthem he recorded. "I would like to say I root for the [LA] Galaxy, but they have played so poorly lately,” Chairez told the New York Daily News in 2009. “My heart is with Chivas [de Guadalajara], I must confess.” Whatever. To be fair, the electronic rock band is originally from Mexico.
16. “Legend TFC” - Red City Ramblers (Toronto FC)
The Toronto FC fans who recorded this 2015 anthem under the name Red City Ramblers prove you don’t need to be a touring band to have your soccer anthem catch on. BMO Field plays the boozy sing-along right before kick-off at home games. The European influence is obvious in the tune, which doubles as a drinking anthem. The only thing missing is someone yelling “Last call.”
15. Ball + Win - Bri Steves & OddKidOut feat BlumBros (Philadelphia Union)
NFL teams have been known to come up with playoff anthems. Why not MLS clubs? The Philadelphia Union marketing department collaborated with local hip-hop artists for its 2018 playoff anthem, which includes boasts such as “Best in the league” (you know, because “Sixth seed in the East” just didn’t have the same ring to it) and “Cup on the way.” The Union was bounced from the playoffs in the first round that season and the song hasn’t been used by the club since. Regardless, good for the Union for trying something different and giving local artists some shine.
14. “One New England” - David McWane and Revolution supporters (New England Revolution)
The Revolution saw potential in the 2016 supporters’ group anthem, “Trouble is Coming Your Way” — created by ska singer David McWane and Revs supporters — and asked all parties if they would be willing to return to the studio to record a new official club version that incorporated more team elements. McWane and fans obliged and the end result was this 2017 punk anthem, which is the last song played before the second-half kickoff at home games.
13. “We Run This” - E-40 (San Jose Earthquakes)
The Earthquakes should be honored that Bay area rap legend E-40 would take time out of his schedule to record an anthem for the club, even if it probably wasn’t that much time (you don’t record 28 albums during your career by obsessing over every bar and beat). Just don’t expect to hear the 2008 anthem at home games. The song is no longer part of the regular game day rotation. Still, E-40 continues to rep the Earthquakes on social media. And he keeps writing sports anthems as well, most recently for the San Francisco 49ers.
12. “Never Give Up on You” - Judah & the Lion (Nashville SC)
Nashville SC didn’t wait long to introduce its official anthem. The “Music City” club tapped Judah & the Lion to pen this song — which plays before and after Nashville SC home games — for its inaugural season. The tempo in “Never Give Up on You” is slower than what some might expect from a stadium anthem. But, hey, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” isn’t exactly Jock Jams material either and look how that caught on.
*11. “TFC” - Barenaked Ladies (Toronto FC)
If the Beach Boys ever recorded a soccer anthem, it might sound like Barenaked Ladies’ breezy and underappreciated Toronto FC song.
*10. “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Stop Us Now” - Blackpool Lights (Kansas City Wizards)
This high-energy Kansas City Wizards rock song was played during home games and in promo videos for the club before the team rebranded as Sporting KC. These days the anthem lives on in part as a Sporting KC supporters’ group chant.
9. “My Home” - Stix (LAFC)
Rapper Stix caught the soccer bug after attending an LAFC match and then recorded this 2019 tribute to the Black and Gold, featuring the chants of the 3252, which you can hear at LAFC home matches following the post-game interview. “My Home” is a bit all over the place lyrically as it goes from “Frontline war-ready” and “Kicks leave you deceased” to “Shopping down at Niky’s” and “Que paso, mami? ‘Bout to drop her a 50.” But the beat and flow are enjoyable enough to help the track stick the landing.
8. “Never Say Die” - The Old Firm Casuals (San Jose Earthquakes)
For those who like their soccer songs punk rock, Rancid’s Lars Frederiksen and his side project, The Old Firm Casuals, gives you this bouncy Earthquakes anthem. The song includes background vocals from former Quakes players, including Clarence Goodson, and is played during home games when the Quakes score a late goal. Asked why he recorded the 2014 song, Frederiksen, who is a regular at Quakes games, told MLSsoccer.com, “If you’re going to have a song for when a goal is scored or whatever, do something better than Beyonce.”
7. “Lights” - Kid Runner (Columbus Crew)
The only lyrics in the Crew’s official anthem from 2015 is “ahhh” and “ahhh-ohhh.” That’s it. Kid Runner’s Fran Litterski told the Columbus Dispatch that the alternative pop band was “trying to imagine something playing in a soccer stadium — something easy to chant and catch on to.” You can hear “Lights” drop the bass at Crew home games during player intros and after Crew goals.
6. “Believe” - Branden Steineckert (Real Salt Lake)
Rancid band members have given us two different anthems for two different MLS clubs. But unlike Frederiksen’s Quakes anthem, Steineckert’s 2012 RSL anthem is more chant than song. “Believe” gave RSL a timeless anthem that is easy to belt out and clap and/or drum along to, without being dumbed down. “It needed to be something that you could picture guys holding a stein of beer, singing it in a pub,” Steineckert told MLSsoccer.com. And how does Frederiksen feel about Steineckert supporting an opposing MLS club? “It gets pretty heated sometimes,” Frederiksen told MLSsoccer.com, “especially if we’re playing each other.”
5. “The Last Sound” - Grammatrain (Seattle Sounders)
The Sounders don’t need me to tell them how to improve the game-day experience. The organization seems to be getting by just fine without my input. But if I could just make one suggestion, it would be to bring this alternative song from 2010 back into the mix. “The Last Sound” is made for the Seattle stadium experience and already includes background vocals from Sounders fans. Drew Carey can back me up on this. He’s a fan too.
*4. “Mighty Real” - Meg & Dia (Real Salt Lake)
Years before she was a runner-up on the first season on “The Voice,” Dia Frampton was a member of the pop-rock duo Meg and Dia with her sister Meg. Together they released the excellent “Monster” and this fun RSL anthem. For some reason, the latter song didn’t gain much traction and is rarely, if ever, mentioned by Meg and Dia, who reunited last year, or RSL.
3. United We Conquer - Archie Eversole (Atlanta United)
Leave it to Archie Eversole to deliver the hip-hop battle cry Atlanta United deserves. The “We Ready” rapper brings the bravado on this 2018 autotuned anthem, boasting “United we conquer, United we conquer/Oh you wanna fight? So now we gonna stomp ya.” Even if you’re not a member of Atlanta United’s supporters’ groups — who get a shoutout on the track — you may still find yourself mean-mugging and puffing out your chest by the end. It’s that kind of song.
2. “Burgundy Sky” - Little Eye (Colorado Rapids)
This obscure Rapids tribute is a family affair. Little Eye singer Allan Sieczkowski came up with the pop-rock song after his brother-in-law, Jamie Smith, helped the Rapids win the 2010 MLS Cup. “Burgundy Sky” is a way better tune than it needed to be and might be the most radio-friendly song on the list.
*1. “Don’t Play” - Mike Jones (Houston Dynamo)
No anthem from the MLS Represent campaign has had more lasting power than Mike Jones’s tribute to the Houston Dynamo. Who? Houston Dynamo. Who? Houston Dynamo. The catchy H-town rap — which Jones performed live at the Dynamo’s 2007 MLS Cup championship rally — has been used at home games in one way or another ever since. This season “Don’t Play” got promoted to the Dynamo’s goal song, where it belongs.
Luis Gomez covered soccer and then celebrities for the Chicago Tribune before leaving the newspaper to travel the world. You can read about his global adventures on his travel blog, Extra Underwear.