2003 - goal celebration - mls cup

FEATURE: 5 reasons why the 2003 MLS Cup was a classic

Every day at 5 p.m. PT, full-match replays of MLS Classics will be released in their entirety on YouTube, Facebook, MLSsoccer.com, and the official MLS app (check out the full schedule). Ahead of tonight’s replay of the 2003 MLS Cup Final between San Jose and Chicago, let’s take a look at five reasons why that match will always be a classic.

  1. The second MLS Cup championship in three years for San Jose cemented the Quakes into league history. Even now, only four MLS clubs have ever accomplished the feat: D.C. United (1996, 1997, 1999); the San Jose Earthquakes (2001, 2003); the Houston Dynamo (2006, 2007); and the LA Galaxy (2011, 2012, 2014). And don’t get us started on Houston’s two Cups…


  1. No MLS Cup Final has ever matched the offensive output of 2003. With the Quakes prevailing 4-2, a league-record six goals were scored that day. In fact, only two other years saw as many as five goals scored (1996, 2004). Fans watching on ABC were treated to a good old-fashioned slugfest that has never since been replicated.


  1. The Quakes earned their first MLS Cup by defeating the rival LA Galaxy in 2001. They earned their second by winning at the home of the Galaxy in 2003. All MLS Cup Finals before 2011 were played on a predetermined neutral site, much like the Superbowl. So for San Jose to lift the trophy on the field of its most bitter rival was just the cherry on top. This was also just the second time that an MLS team had won a championship in its home state, with D.C. winning at its own RFK Memorial Stadium in 1997.


  1. It was a final moment of glory for Landon Donovan in an Earthquakes kit. Although San Jose reached the postseason again with Donovan the following year, they were eliminated in the first round by the top-seeded Kansas City Wizards. Donovan had an unforgettable four seasons with the Earthquakes and arguably nothing will top him scoring two goals in the ’03 Final.


  1. The sheer firepower on display that day was astronomical. MLSsoccer.com’s Charles Boehm does a fantastic job highlighting the future leaders that were involved in that game:


“Chicago's starting XI featured the current head coaches of the Philadelphia Union (Jim Curtin) and New York Red Bulls (Armas), Atlanta United’s technical director and VP (Bocanegra), D.C. United and LAFC assistant coaches (Zach Thornton and Ante Razov), Real Salt Lake’s head scout (Andy “Bommadog” Williams), a notable player agent (Damani Ralph) and the most prominent US coach working abroad at present (Jesse Marsch). Current RBNY assistant CJ Brown was among the Fire substitutes.

“The Quakes, too, had a litany of future coaches and executives, like Agoos, Pat Onstad, Craig Waibel, Eddie Robinson, Manny Lagos and Todd Dunivant. Viewers north of the border will note the influence of their Canadian contingent as well: Onstad made a crucial, game-changing play in the second half (I’ll spare you a spoiler here) and Dwayne De Rosario – still growing into the dominant attacker who would become a six-time MLS Best XI honoree – added to his burgeoning reputation with an impact display off the bench.”

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