MLS Cup 1998
|Date||October 25, 1998|
|Venue||Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California, US|
|Man of the Match||Piotr Nowak|
|Weather||Partly cloudy, 74 °F (23 °C)|
MLS Cup 1998 was the third edition of the MLS Cup, the championship match of Major League Soccer (MLS), which took place on October 25, 1998, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. It was contested by D.C. United, the two-time reigning champions, and the Chicago Fire, the first expansion team to reach the final. Chicago won the match 2–0, with goals from Jerzy Podbrożny and Diego Gutiérrez.
Chicago became the first expansion team to win the MLS Cup and also was the first MLS club to win both the league championship and the U.S. Open Cup in a single season, completing a domestic double. D.C. in turn became the first team to reach three consecutive finals and the first club to fail to score; D.C. also posted the best record in MLS that year with 24 wins (the L.A. Galaxy also won that same number of games), which is also a record that stands today.
As the top two finishers in the MLS Cup Playoffs, both D.C. United and Chicago Fire earned the right to represent the United States in the 1999 CONCACAF Champions' Cup. The clubs faced off once again in the third-place match of the continental tournament, almost a year after meeting in MLS Cup 1998. That match ended in a 2–2 draw.
The Rose Bowl was the venue chosen by Major League Soccer to host the 1998 MLS Cup final. The home ground of Los Angeles Galaxy from 1996 to 2003, the venerable stadium opened in 1922 and previously hosted events for the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. The Rose Bowl was also the site of the final matches for both FIFA World Cup 1994 and FIFA Women's World Cup 1999.
The Rose Bowl was announced as the host venue on October 25, 1997. It was the first time that the MLS Cup would be played in the Western United States. Local side Los Angeles Galaxy barely missed the opportunity to play for MLS Cup at home after falling to eventual champions Chicago Fire in the Western Conference finals.
The match began with great enthusiasm as D.C. United forward Jaime Moreno threatened early with a shot over Chicago's crossbar within the first minute. Chicago's first goal arrived after 29 minutes, following a quick exchange between Polish international Piotr Nowak and Ante Razov just inside the corner of D.C.'s 18-yard box. The move lured United goalkeeper Tom Presthus off his line, at which point Nowak passed across the box to oncoming Fire midfielder Jerzy Podbrożny who scored an easy tap-in at the back post. Nowak almost scored a second goal when his 45th minute shot deflected off the body of his teammate, Diego Gutiérrez. Nowak was credited with his second assist of the match, and Chicago headed into the second half with all the momentum and maintained the clean sheet on the way to the club's first league championship. Chris Armas played a significant role in his team's victory by neutralizing the playmaking ability of roaming midfielder Marco Etcheverry, a key ball distributor in United's attack and the league leader in assists that season. MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Zach Thornton was prolific with 8 saves on the day, including 3 from previous MLS Golden Boot winner and United's leading scorer, Roy Lassiter.
|D.C. United||0–2||Chicago Fire|
Man of the Match:
|D.C. United||Chicago Fire|
|Shots on target||8||4|
- Jones, Grahame L. (October 25, 1997). "Galaxy, Rose Bowl to Host MLS Championship in '98". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 3, 2018.