Get ready for the 2016 MLS Cup with a look back at the league's best finals

The Seattle Sounders will take on Toronto FC at BMO Field on Saturday, Dec. 10 (5 p.m. PT; FOX, TSN, UniMas, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360AM) in the 21st MLS Cup Final. With that in mind, we take a look back at the league's top five championship games.

5. 2005: LA Galaxy 1, New England Revolution 0 (a.e.t.)

The Galaxy and Revolution battled to a thrilling scoreless draw after 90 minutes at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, in what was a rematch of the 2002 MLS Cup Final. And just like in 2002, a Guatemalan Galaxy player buried the Revs in extra time.

Seldom-used and often-unproductive midfielder Guillermo Ramirez scored the game-winner in the first extra-time period on a brilliant right-footed volley from the top of the 18-yard-box to hand LA its second MLS Cup.

Ramirez spent the 2005 season on loan from Guatemalan side Municipal and scored just one goal in 24 regular-season matches, but he entered as a substitute in the 66th minute and etched his name into Galaxy lore before returning back to Municipal after the season.

The Galaxy had defeated New England in the final three years earlier when Ramirez’s countryman Carlos Ruiz scored the game-winning tally in the second period of extra time to win LA’s first title.

4. 2009: Real Salt Lake 1, LA Galaxy 1 (RSL 5-4 on PKs)

Real Salt Lake edged the LA Galaxy in penalty kicks at Qwest Field in Seattle to earn their first MLS Cup in just their fifth year of existence.

The Galaxy’s Mike Magee gave LA the lead just shy of halftime before RSL’s Robbie Findlay found the equalizer in the 64th minute. The two teams went back and forth for the remainder of regulation and into extra time, but neither could find a breakthrough.

Still level after 120 minutes, the MLS Cup Final went to penalty kicks for just the second time in history. It did not disappoint.

With penalties tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth round, RSL’s Andy Williams had a chance to win it, but goalkeeper Josh Saunders made a huge save to his left to send the shootout into sudden death. Chris Klein and Chris Wingert each converted in the sixth round, but a miss from LA’s Edson Buddle set the stage for Robbie Russell to deliver the winning PK and the title.

RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando stopped three of the seven penalties he faced en route to earning MVP honors.

3. 2006: Houston Dynamo 1, New England Revolution 1 (HOU 4-3 on PKs)

The Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution finished regulation scoreless at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, but tallied just one minute apart in the second period of extra time to send the final to a penalty shootout for the first time in league history.

Forward Taylor Twellman gave the Revs the lead in the 113th minute off a pinpoint left-footed finish from the left side of the 18-yard-box. But on the verge of winning their first MLS Cup and avenging their 2005 loss to the Galaxy, New England conceded off the ensuing kickoff.

Brian Mullan crossed a ball onto the head of eventual game MVP Brian Ching, who capitalized and sent the match to PKs.

With PKs level at 3-3, Ching gave the Dynamo the lead in the top of the fifth round. Needing to score to send the shootout into sudden death, Jay Heaps fired a shot to the right side of goalkeeper Pat Onstad, who corralled it to seal the win.

The Dynamo's title came in just their first MLS season after relocating from San Jose. They would go on to win back-to-back titles after knocking off the Revs in a rematch the following season.

2. 2013: Sporting Kansas City 1, Real Salt Lake 1 (SKC 7-6 on PKs)

Four years after winning MLS Cup in penalty kicks, RSL found itself on the losing end, bowing out to Sporting KC after an epic 10-round PK affair in front of the SKC faithful at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kans.

After a scoreless first half, Alvaro Saborio put RSL in front in the 52nd minute. Defender Aurelien Collin equalized for Sporting in the 76th, good for his third goal of the postseason.

Graham Zusi nearly gave SKC the lead in the third minute of extra time, but Nick Rimando made an incredible reaction save and punched Zusi’s close-range shot over the crossbar.

RSL thought they had taken the lead at the end of the first extra time when Saborio headed home a cross from Robbie Findlay, but the assistant on the far sideline whistled Saborio offside.

To open the penalty shootout, Real missed their first two attempts to fall into a 2-0 hole. Zusi had a chance to win it for Sporting in the top of the fifth round, but he skied his effort over the crossbar and gave RSL a chance to send the shootout into sudden death. Given new life, Javier Morales calmly sent his shot in the bottom of the fifth round right down the middle past a diving Jimmy Nielsen to tie it at 3-3.

Each team converted in the sixth and seventh rounds, but SKC’s Lawrence Olum missed the frame wide left in the top of the eighth round and opened the door for RSL. But with a chance to win it, Sebastian Velasquez shot his attempt into the arms of Nielsen to extend the match.

Each team converted in the ninth round, and Collin gave SKC a 7-6 lead in the top of the 10th, forcing Lovel Palmer to tie it. Palmer ripped a shot high and down the middle that banged off the crossbar to give Sporting Kansas City its second MLS Cup title.

1. 1996: D.C. United 3, LA Galaxy 2 (a.e.t.)

The inaugural MLS Cup still remains the best final in the league’s 21-year history.

Playing in the pouring rain at Foxboro Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., D.C. United rallied to defeat the LA Galaxy on a golden-goal header in overtime from Eddie Pope.

The Galaxy struck just five minutes into the match on a header from Eduardo Hurtado. LA doubled its lead in the 56th minute when Chris Armas dribbled past two defenders before beating Mark Simpson in goal.

D.C. pulled one back in the 73rd minute off a towering header from Tony Sannah, but LA’s Cobi Jones nearly iced the game minutes later when his one-timed left-footed effort clanged off the crossbar.

United capitalized on their good fortune in the 81st minute when they incredibly found their equalizer. Marco Etcheverry, who assisted on Sannah’s goal, whipped in a cross from a free kick on the left side that Galaxy goalkeeper Jorge Campos punched away but only as far as Shawn Medved. Campos stopped Medved’s first close-rang effort, but he would not be denied as he slotted the ball home on the rebound.

D.C. nearly won in regulation just minutes later when Raul Diaz Arce found the back of the net off a great run from Etcheverry, but was ruled offside. The first final in MLS history would need more than regulation.

In the golden-goal overtime format the league used to use, it took just four minutes for D.C. to complete their comeback and secure MLS’ inaugural title. Etcheverry picked out Pope on a corner kick and he convincingly headed in the winner before sliding headfirst on the ground toward his onrushing teammates.



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