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Oldest teams in the MLS

In this article, we will take a look at the five oldest teams in the MLS and their history, notable achievements, and current state of the team.

DC United

D.C. United

Joined: 1996

DC United is the oldest team in MLS, with a history that dates back to the league’s inaugural season in 1996. Founded by the likes of John Hendricks, the founder of the Discovery Channel, and other local business leaders, DC United has been an integral part of the growth and development of professional soccer in the United States. The team is based in Washington, D.C., and plays its home games at the state-of-the-art Audi Field, which opened in 2018.

Over the years, DC United has established itself as one of the most successful and iconic teams in the MLS, with a trophy cabinet that multiple MLS Cup titles, plus Supporters’ Shields, and even a couple of U.S. Open Cups. The team’s success has been built on a foundation of talented players, innovative coaching, and a strong commitment to developing young talent. Some of the most notable players to have worn the DC United jersey include Christian Benteke, Mateusz Klich, and Ravel Morrison.

DC United has also been a leader in youth development, with a strong tradition of producing talented players through its academy system. Bobby Convey, Freddy Adu, and Bill Hamid are just a few of the notable graduates who have gone on to have successful careers in the MLS and beyond. The team’s youth academy continues to be a key focus for the club, with a commitment to providing young players with the resources, coaching, and support they need to succeed.

Despite its storied past, DC United has faced some challenges in recent years, including a lack of success on the field. The team finished near the bottom of the Eastern Conference in the 2022 season, prompting the club’s leadership to make some changes. In a move that generated a lot of excitement among fans at the time, DC United brought in legendary English footballer Wayne Rooney as its new head coach.

As one of the most successful footballers of his generation, Rooney has won numerous titles and awards throughout his career, including five Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League trophy with Manchester United. He also played for DC for two seasons in 2018 and 2019, so was treated as a returning hero.

Rooney’s appointment as head coach was seen as a major coup for the team, and fans were hopeful that he could help the team return to its winning ways. It didn’t work though. He achieved a win percentage of just 26.4%, and DC failed to qualify for the playoffs. He left the club shortly afterwards.

New England Revolution

New England Revolution

Joined: 1996

The New England Revolution is a storied franchise that has been a fixture of the MLS since its inception in 1996. Founded by the Kraft family, who also own the NFL’s New England Patriots, the team has had a loyal following in the New England area for over two decades. Based in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the New England Revolution plays its home games at Gillette Stadium, which it shares with the Patriots.

Despite its long history in the MLS, the New England Revolution has never won an MLS Cup title, a fact that has been a source of frustration for the team’s passionate fan base. However, the team has made it to the final on several occasions. The team’s success can be attributed to its talented players over the years, including Taylor Twellman, Shalrie Joseph, and Matt Reis, as well as its strong youth academy system, which has produced players such as Diego Fagundez and Scott Caldwell.

New England Revolution experienced a resurgence under the leadership of head coach Bruce Arena. One of the most successful coaches in American soccer history. Arena took over in 2019, and by the 2021 season, the team finished in second place in the Eastern Conference and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, marking a significant improvement from previous years. However in 2022 they finished tenth place, so it was a tenure of ups and downs.

Off the field, the New England Revolution is also making strides to strengthen its presence in the community. The team has launched several initiatives to support local youth soccer programs and has partnered with local organizations to promote diversity and inclusion.

LA Galaxy

LA Galaxy

Joined: 1996

The LA Galaxy is one of the most iconic and successful teams in the history of the MLS, and has been a mainstay of American soccer since its inception in 1996. The team is based in Los Angeles, California, and plays its home games at the state-of-the-art Dignity Health Sports Park. The LA Galaxy has won an impressive number of MLS Cup titles, as well as several Supporters’ Shields, making it one of the most decorated teams in the league.

The LA Galaxy has a storied history that is closely tied to some of the most iconic players in the MLS. Players such as Landon Donovan, David Beckham, and Robbie Keane have all donned the Galaxy jersey and helped lead the team to glory. Donovan, in particular, is regarded as one of the greatest American soccer players of all time, and his contributions to the Galaxy’s success cannot be overstated.

The LA Galaxy has also been a leader in developing young talent, with a strong focus on player development and youth academy programs. The team has produced several notable players over the years, including Gyasi Zardes, Efrain Alvarez, and Julian Araujo. The team’s commitment to developing young talent is a key part of its success, and a testament to its dedication to building for the future.

Despite their impressive trophy cabinet, the team suffered a drop in form after 2014, often failing to even qualify for the playoffs. Then, in 2021, the arrival of new head coach Greg Vanney was hoped to return Galaxy to their previous levels of success, especially with the arrival of players such as Chicharito, another former Manchester United star. Vanney emphasized the importance of defensive solidity and possession-based attacking play. Under Vanney’s leadership, the LA Galaxy showed signs of improvement, it’s true, but the progress was slower than hoped.

FC Dallas

FC Dallas

Joined: 1996

FC Dallas is a team that has long been a staple of the MLS, having been founded in 1996. The team is based in Frisco, Texas, and plays its home games at the impressive Toyota Stadium. Over the years, FC Dallas has established a strong reputation for its commitment to developing young talent, with a youth academy that is widely regarded as one of the best in the league.

The FC Dallas youth academy has produced several notable players over the years, including Kellyn Acosta and Reggie Cannon, who have gone on to have successful careers in the MLS and beyond. The team’s focus on developing young talent is a key part of its strategy for success, and is a testament to its long-term vision for building a sustainable and competitive team.

FC Dallas has had some success on the field, winning the MLS Cup title, the Supporters’ Shield, and a few U.S. Open Cups to boot. Notable players who have donned the FC Dallas jersey over the years include Jason Kreis, Oscar Pareja, and David Ferreira, all of whom played an instrumental role in the team’s success.

In recent years, it’s fair to say that FC Dallas have come off the boil a little, although they did finish in third place in the Western Conference in the 2022 season, which was their best result in 6 years. They are not a club that tend to attract star names, which may be something that is holding them back a little.

New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls

Joined: 1996

Having been founded in 1995, the New York Red Bulls is a team with a rich history in the MLS. The team is based in Harrison, New Jersey, and plays its home games at the state-of-the-art Red Bull Arena. Over the years, the New York Red Bulls has established itself as a formidable team in the league, with a focus on developing young talent and playing a dynamic and aggressive style of soccer.

The New York Red Bulls has had several notable players throughout its history, including some of the biggest names in soccer. Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, and Bradley Wright-Phillips are just a few of the players who have donned the Red Bulls jersey and made a significant impact on the team’s success. Their contributions to the team’s success cannot be overstated, as they brought a wealth of talent, experience, and leadership to the squad, not to mention commercial opportunities.

Although their trophy cabinet is pretty barren, the Red Bulls are one of those teams that are always challenging for the MLS Cup. For most of their existence they have been serious contenders, making the playoffs in almost every season, but never quite going the distance. They have won the Supporters Shield on a number of occasions though, and are never a team that can be written off.