Winning championships is the ultimate goal of any professional athlete. In soccer, trophies are earned through a variety of competitions. Even in the parity that exists in Major League Soccer, some clubs have had to wait longer than others for their chance to lift silverware.
Not all trophies are created equally though. Winning the Premier League is preferred over the Community Shield. From a North American soccer perspective, the major trophies on offer are the MLS Cup, the MLS Supporters Shield, the US Open Cup, and the CONCACAF Champions League. The MLS is Back Tournament is a likely one time event and therefore not a consideration for this topic (sorry Timbers fans). We are also not considering the Canadian Championship (Voyageurs Cup), Rivalry Cups, or any other small and/or defunct competitions.
Since the Campeones Cup requires both Liga MX and MLS participants to win their respective championships, it is a valid trophy despite its small sample size.
With all of that figured out, here are the top five droughts.
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No. 5 Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS Debut 2011) 11 years
Vancouver Whitecaps have won some silverware in their current iteration, but none from the major tournaments. They joined Major League Soccer in 2011 alongside the Portland Timbers, but while two/thirds of the Cascadia trio have become consistent forces in the last decade, Whitecaps have only enjoyed fleeting success. The furthest they’ve advanced in the playoffs was the first round or the quarterfinals, crashing out in their first game even in their best league finish of 2nd in the Western Conference in 2015. The Whitecaps are the youngest of these five trophy starved clubs and one of three expansion sides listed.
No. 4 Colorado Rapids (MLS Cup 2010) 11 years
The Colorado Rapids were winners of what many MLS fans call the most random MLS Cup matchup, but their fans won’t mind (after all, a trophy is a trophy). The Rapids were victorious thanks to Conor Casey’s equalizer to send it to extra time followed by George John’s decisive own goal which doomed FC Dallas. This was their first and so far only major honors in existence. Since then, the closest they’ve come to another piece of silverware was in 2016 when they finished two points behind their 2010 adversaries FC Dallas to win the Supporters Shield. They also notably lost the 1999 US Open Cup Final to Rochester Rhinos.
No. 3 Real Salt Lake (MLS Cup 2009) 12 years
The late 2000s and early 2010s appears to be a point of no return for MLS Cup winners, and it would’ve felt even more like that had the Columbus Crew not triumphed in 2020. Real Salt Lake fans and neutrals alike can rest easy knowing Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando earned an MLS Cup title from their lengthy soccer careers. While the formerly dread-haired wonder missed a penalty in that shootout, the goalkeeper with 22 USMNT caps came in clutch to give Salt Lake City their first professional sports title in the five major leagues. Like their Rocky Mountain rivals, Real Salt Lake had a couple of opportunities to add to their collection but such bids as the 2011 MLS Cup run ended in the semifinals and they lost the 2013 US Open Cup Final to DC United.
No. 2 New England Revolution (US Open Cup 2007) 14 years
Known as the perennial MLS Cup losers, that dubious distinction suffices to rule out one major competition the New England Revolution could draw on to obtain silverware. Runners Up in 5 MLS Cups and 2 of their 3 US Open Cup appearances, their most recent cup success came in 2007 in a 3-2 win over FC Dallas. This was the most notable of the two competitions club legend and current analyst Taylor Twellman won for the Foxborough based team. The other of those two being the 2008 North American SuperLiga which was a competition held between MLS and Liga MX sides that was discontinued in 2011.
No. 1 Chicago Fire (US Cup 2006) 15 years
Lately, the Windy City’s soccer club has made more headlines for rebrands and a reporter asking Bastian Schweinsteiger if he could win the World Cup with Chicago Fire than any sort of success on the pitch. As the MLS club with the lengthiest trophy drought spanning a decade and a half, it’s easy to understand why that’s the case. The Fire were a successful side in Major League Soccer’s early years in the late 90’s through the mid 2000’s. The last of those trophies was the 2006 US Open Cup with a 3-1 win over the LA Galaxy. With four US Open Cups to their name, that puts the Fire joint second behind Bethlehem Steel (1907-1930) and Maccabee Los Angeles (1971-1982).