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Mark the date: Dec. 7 MLS Cup final will be at Sporting Park in Kansas City

Nov 23, 2013, 11:31 PM EDT

LIVESTRONG Sporting Park

The MLS Cup final will be decided in Kansas City for the first time – and in the country’s heartland for the first time, too.

Championship games in Major League Soccer — 17 of them, previously, starting with the league’s inaugural MLS Cup in 1996 — have tended to be staged along the coasts. The last time Kansas City appeared in an MLS Cup final, for instance, in 2004, that was among the six finals played in California. Three have been played in Washington, D.C., and three outside Boston in Foxboro, Mass.

Two have been played in Texas, at FC Dallas’ stadium. And the 2001 final was in Columbus, Ohio, the only other final played anywhere near Kansas City.

But three years ago, MLS began playing its final at the site of the higher seed (rather than choosing a neutral site in advance). Both of the last two years saw the LA Galaxy finish as the highest seeded finalist. But for this year it is Sporting Kansas City, based out of Sporting Park (pictured above) on the outskirts of the city. There, Sporting KC will face either Portland or Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park on Dec. 7 for the 18th league championship.

Portland hosts RSL on Sunday night for the Western Conference championship; Sunday’s series winner will travel into the heartland for the MLS Cup final.

Here is a breakdown of the previous MLS Cup sites…

  • Carson, California, 5 times
  • Washington, D.C.,3
  • Foxborough, Massachusetts, 3
  • Frisco, Texas, 2
  • Pasadena, California, 1
  • Columbus, Ohio, 1
  • Seattle, Washington, 1
  • Toronto, Ontario, 1

And the last five MLS Cup sites …

  • 2008, Los Angeles
  • 2009, Seattle
  • 2010, Toronto
  • *2011, Los Angeles
  • *2012, Los Angeles

* MLS Cup played at the site of the higher seeded finalist

(MORE: What we learned in Kansas City’s win Saturday) 

(MORE: Sporting Kansas City Man of the Match)

(MORE: Sporting KC downs Houston in Eastern Conference final)

  1. hildezero - Nov 23, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    “But three years ago, MLS began playing its final at the site of the higher seed…”

    That’s not true. It’s actually two years ago.

    • Steve Davis - Nov 23, 2013 at 11:58 PM

      It’s the third year of this new rule … but that’s pretty clear if you read the next sentence … or if you look at the chart below.

  2. hildezero - Nov 24, 2013 at 12:29 AM

    Well, that’s my point. I didn’t have to look at the chart to remember that in 2011 Galaxy won the Supporter’s Shield, but that didn’t meant that they had the right to host the final. Los Angeles was chosen as the host for the 2011 MLS Cup final. It wasn’t because they won the Shield.

    • tylerbetts - Nov 24, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      Right you are. MLS announced in May of 2011 that the Final would be in LA:

      So, unless we’re going down a massive conspiracy that the league was going to guarantee LA the Western Conference …

      But, i’s easy to confuse. Especially considering the poor attendance and TV visuals for the 2010 contest between Colorado and Dallas. We knew the MLS would have to change and get away from neutral site hosting. Just happened to line up a year earlier than the actual switch.

  3. jdf902000 - Nov 24, 2013 at 2:15 AM

    Yeah I think he’s right Steve. As I remember it just happened that LA made it to the finals in 2011 but the Cup would have been held there either way. I appreciate your coverage as always. Soccertalk has been doing great work

  4. hildezero - Nov 24, 2013 at 2:26 AM

    Thanks jdf902000. I appreciate that a lot.

  5. godsholytrousers - Nov 24, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    MLS made a wise decision getting rid of the finals at a pre-determined venue. Recall the insanely underattended final between Columbus Crew and New York Red Bull in sunny Southern California at Home Depot Center? What a downer for a great season.

    Next major decision for Garber?

    Make the finals a two-legged home and home final with the higher rated team getting the second leg at their home. This would build interest, build media buzz. Create more tension, more drama, and higher television ratings.

    Garber, make this happen!

  6. hildezero - Nov 24, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Nope. I don’t think that will happen, dawg.

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