RANKED! The 5 best U.S. Open Cup champions of the modern era

Which modern-era Open Cup-winning team was the best? We count them down.

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

5. 2016 FC Dallas 

In 2016, Oscar Pareja earned MLS Coach of the Year honors as he helped his former club take another step forward as FC Dallas lifted a trophy for the first time since winning the U.S. Open Cup in 1997. In fact, Dallas won two of them as its 17-8-9 record earned it the Supporters’ Shield.

FCD became the first team in MLS history to finish with back-to-back 60-point seasons, and during the Pareja era, it has the best record in the league. 

Dallas’ offense received a boost when it was able to acquire Maxi Urruti, who had just helped the Portland Timbers win MLS Cup in 2015. Urruti led Dallas with 10 goals.

Midfielder Mauro Diaz was named Player of the Tournament for leading Dallas to the Open Cup title. In the regular season, he was also the offensive catalyst, scoring five goals and dishing out 13 assists, tied for third in MLS. However, Diaz tore his ACL in the second to last regular-season game and missed the rest of the season. Dallas’ season would come to an end in conference semifinals, leaving many fans to wonder if the Hoops would have won the third trophy (MLS Cup) if Diaz had not injured.

While Diaz earned MLS Best XI honors leading a midfield that featured U.S international Kellyn Acosta and fellow Designated Player Carlos Gruezo. However, the defense shined as well, led by MLS Best XI member Matt Hedges who had a breakout season anchoring the backline in front of goalkeeper Chris Seitz. Seitz, who has been primarily a backup during his previous five seasons in Dallas, stepped into the starting role and was second in the league in shutouts with 10 while finishing with a 1.10 goals against average.

4. 2014 Seattle Sounders

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

After the Sounders won their fourth U.S. Open Cup title in six years, they won a major trophy that wasn’t Open Cup related. They finished with the best record in Major League Soccer (20-10-4) and earned the club’s first Supporters’ Shield before falling on an away goals tiebreaker in the Western Conference final to the LA Galaxy. Out of Seattle’s four Open Cup championship teams, the 2014 team was the best, and certainly the most accomplished. 

The strength of the team was definitely on the offensive side of the ball, where Seattle was the second-highest scoring team in the league (ninth best in MLS history). The Sounders were loaded with goalscorers, led by one of the best attacking duos in MLS history. Obafemi Martins set up Clint Dempsey for the game-winning goal in extra time of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup final, and between those two forwards, they combined for 32 goals and 23 assists in league play. Martins would finish second behind the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane for league MVP honors that season.

If Dempsey or Martins needed a break, Seattle had acquired a pair of veterans in Kenny Cooper and Chad Barrett to step in and contribute. In fact, Cooper tied the modern era record with six U.S. Open Cup goals in 2014 and won Player of the Tournament honors.

The team’s talented midfield featured players like Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle and two more offseason signings, Marco Pappa and Gonzalo Pineda.

The defense was anchored by MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall, who Seattle stole in a trade with the Columbus Crew. Marshall played alongside players like long-time Sounder Zach Scott, Brad Evans, Jalil Anibaba and DeAndre Yedlin, who had just burst onto the scene with the U.S. men’s national team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  

The Sounders also featured a pair of talented goalkeepers with Stefan Frei, who was acquired in an offseason trade, and veteran Marcus Hahnemann. Hahnemann was back playing for the club where he got his start. The Seattle native signed with his hometown Sounders in 1994 and made his Open Cup debut in the 1995 semifinals. 

NEXT: A double helping of a club that has defined U.S. Open Cup success