The MLS Cup is the annual championship game of Major League Soccer. The trophy is called the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy, after the founding chairman of MLS.

MLS Scudetto

At the start of the 2006 season, MLS created their version of the scudetto (Italian: "small shield"), a symbol worn on the jersey by the team who won the previous season's Serie A (the top Italian league).

The MLS scudetto is a curved, triangular badge featuring a backdrop of the American flag behind a replica of the Alan I. Rothenberg MLS Cup trophy. The MLS scudetto is worn by the winning team the season following the victory. It is only during the subsequent season (two years after winning the championship), that the team adds a star — a common soccer signifier of titles won — above the team logo. The team can display the star on other items beside their jersey in the year after winning the Cup, but only if the scudetto is not shown.

  • The 2005 MLS Cup champion, the Los Angeles Galaxy, was the first team to wear the scudetto and now has a second star above the team shield on the jersey during the 2007 season
  • The Houston Dynamo were the first team to win subsequent championships after the scudetto was unveiled. In such case, the team will wear the scudetto for another season, however the sanctioned star will be added to the team logo.

MLS Cups

Eastern (1996-Present) Western (1996-Present) Central (2000-2001)
Year Date Winning Team Score Losing Team Venue City Attendance
1996 October 20 D.C. United 3–2† Los Angeles Galaxy Foxboro Stadium Foxboro, MA 34,643
1997 October 26 D.C. United (2) 2–1 Colorado Rapids RFK Stadium Washington, D.C. 57,431
1998 October 25 Chicago Fire 2–0 D.C. United Rose Bowl Pasadena, CA 51,350
1999 November 21 D.C. United (3) 2–0 Los Angeles Galaxy Foxboro Stadium (2) Foxboro, MA (2) 44,910
2000 October 15 Kansas City Wizards 1–0 Chicago Fire RFK Stadium (2) Washington, D.C. (2) 39,159
2001 October 21 San Jose Earthquakes 2–1† Los Angeles Galaxy Columbus Crew Stadium Columbus, OH 21,526
2002 October 20 Los Angeles Galaxy 1–0† New England Revolution Gillette Stadium Foxboro, MA (3) 61,316
2003 November 23 San Jose Earthquakes (2) 4–2 Chicago Fire Home Depot Center Carson, CA 27,000
2004 November 14 D.C. United (4) 3–2 Kansas City Wizards Home Depot Center (2) Carson, CA (2) 25,797
2005 November 13 Los Angeles Galaxy (2) 1–0† New England Revolution Pizza Hut Park Frisco, TX 21,193
2006 November 12 Houston Dynamo 1–1
New England Revolution Pizza Hut Park (2) Frisco, TX (2) 22,427
2007 November 18 Houston Dynamo (2) 2–1 New England Revolution RFK Stadium (3) Washington, D.C. (3) 39,859
2008 November 23 Home Depot Center (3) Carson, CA (3)

† - Extra Time
‡ - Shootout
Bold - MLS Supporters' Shield Winner
Italics - Sellout Crowd

MLS Cup successes by club

Club Winners Runners-Up Appearances
D.C. United 4 1 5
Los Angeles Galaxy 2 3 5
Houston Dynamo 2 0 2
San Jose Earthquakes 2 0 2
Chicago Fire 1 2 3
Kansas City Wizards 1 1 2
New England Revolution 0 4 4
Colorado Rapids 0 1 1

Most Valuable Player Award recipients

Year Winner Position Team
1996 Marco Etcheverry Midfielder D.C. United
1997 Jaime Moreno Forward D.C. United
1998 Peter Nowak Midfielder Chicago Fire
1999 Ben Olsen Midfielder D.C. United
2000 Tony Meola Goalkeeper Kansas City Wizards
2001 Dwayne De Rosario Forward San Jose Earthquakes
2002 Carlos Ruiz Forward Los Angeles Galaxy
2003 Landon Donovan Forward San Jose Earthquakes
2004 Alecko Eskandarian Forward D.C. United
2005 Guillermo Ramírez Midfielder Los Angeles Galaxy
2006 Brian Ching Forward Houston Dynamo
2007 Dwayne De Rosario Midfielder Houston Dynamo

Halftime shows


  • The most successful team in MLS Cup playoffs: D.C. United, winning the title four times (1996, 1997, 1999, 2004). The San Jose Earthquakes/Houston Dynamo are considered two separate teams, but consist of the same core of players having won four championships (2001, 2003, 2006, 2007).
  • The other multiple winners:
    San Jose Earthquakes (2001, 2003)
    Los Angeles Galaxy (2002, 2005)
    Houston Dynamo (2006, 2007)
  • Two teams have successfully defended the MLS Cup: D.C. United (1996, 1997) and Houston Dynamo (2006, 2007)
  • D.C. United qualified for four successive MLS Cup finals between 1996 to 1999, a standing record as of 2007.
  • Teams with most appearances (5) in MLS Cup finals:
    DC United: 4 Wins (1996, 1997, 1999, 2004); 1 Loss (1998).
    Los Angeles Galaxy: 2 Wins (2002, 2005); 3 Losses (1996, 1999, 2001).
  • MLS Cup winners who also won the MLS Supporters' Shield (having finished first in the regular season):
    D.C. United (1997; 1999),
    Kansas City Wizards (2000) and
    Los Angeles Galaxy (2002).
  • Only 2 teams won MLS Cup after winning every game in the playoffs:
    D.C. United (won all 5 postseason games in 1997).
    Chicago Fire (won all 5 postseason games in 1998).
  • The runner-up who lost the most playoff games was Chicago Fire in 2000, with 3 losses (all in regulation).
  • The MLS Cup winner with the worst regular-season record was Los Angeles Galaxy in 2005; they finished 4th in the Western Conference and 9th of 12 overall, with a 0.500 record (13-13-6) and negative (-1) goal difference (44-45).
  • The MLS Cup winner with the 2nd-worst regular-season record was D.C. United in 1996, who finished 2nd in the Eastern Conference, with a 0.500 record (16-16). They qualify as the second worst regular season record by virtue of more regular season wins the 2005 LA Galaxy.
  • The 3rd-worst regular-season record was that of D.C. United in 2004; they had a record of 11-10-9 for a winning percentage of .517.
  • The MLS Cup runner-up with the worst regular-season record was Colorado Rapids in 1997, finishing 4th in the Western Conference, with a 0.438 record (14-18 and a negative goal difference (50-59)!
  • The 2nd-worst regular-season record for an MLS Cup runner-up was that of the New England Revolution in 2002 - they finished 1st in the Eastern Conference but only 5th out of 10 teams overall, with a 0.464 record (12-14-2) and a zero goal difference (49-49).
  • The MLS Cup winners who also won the US Open Cup in the same season ("The Double"):
    D.C. United (1996),
    Chicago Fire (1998) and
    Los Angeles Galaxy (2005).
  • All but three MLS Cup finals (2001, 2006, 2007) involved at least a team that finished in the top two overall during the regular season. Some finals even featured both the Shield winners and runners-up (1999, 2000, 2003).
  • The inaugural MLS Cup (1996) was, to this point, the only one in which both teams were making their championship game debut.
  • Up to 2005, Los Angeles Galaxy had been the only team to have qualified for playoffs every season. However, this proud record has come to an end in 2006, as they were knocked out of the playoffs for the first time in their 11-year history.
  • Defending MLS Cup champions who have failed to qualify for the postseason:
    D.C. United (2000) and
    Los Angeles Galaxy (2006).
  • Houston Dynamo (2006, 2007) and San Jose Earthquakes (2001, 2003) have been the only champions winning every final they contested. It is worth noting that the San Jose Earthquakes were moved to Houston minus their history, meaning that the same core of players are undefeated in contested finals.
  • Whenever San Jose Earthquakes/Houston Dynamo have qualified for the playoffs, it either has gone all the way to win the Cup or lost out in the first round.
  • In 2006, Houston Dynamo became the first club to win in a penalty shootout, beating the New England Revolution 4-3. Both teams scored in the second extra time session, resulting in a 1-1 draw, to extend the match to a shootout.
  • Houston Dynamo (2006), Chicago Fire (1998) and D.C. United (1996), were the only teams to have won MLS Cup in their debut seasons.
  • New England Revolution was the only team to lose consecutive finals (2005, 2006, 2007). In fact, they have lost all four MLS Cups that they have been involved in since they also lost in 2002.
  • To date, the 2001 MLS Cup was the only final contested by teams from the same conference: both San Jose Earthquakes and Los Angeles Galaxy were from MLS Western Conference.
  • To date, D. C. United is the only Eastern Conference team to win the MLS Cup as a member of the Eastern Conference. All other cup winners have come from the Western Conference. Chicago and Kansas City both won the MLS Cup while in the Western Conference even though they are now in the Eastern Conference.


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