The MLS Cup is the annual championship final for Major League Soccer. Unlike many leagues around the world, MLS crowns the overall league champion via a post-season playoff tournament, not the most points in the regular season (though that team is recognized with a separate trophy and earns a place in continental play). Which teams have won the MLS Cup over the years? It’s a longer list than you might think.
MLS Cup Trophies
The winning team of the MLS Cup is presented with the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy – which is actually the third distinct trophy design in the competition’s existence, and the second name for it. It’s also the only one you could actually legitimately call a physical cup.
Originally, the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy was handed out. Its original design lasted through 1998, and a redesigned version lasted from 1999-2007. The current trophy made its debut in the 2008 season.
MLS Cup Winners
MLS was designed, in part, to promote parity and prevent a select few teams from dominating the competition. In terms of MLS Cup champions, that goal has largely been achieved.
In total, 32 teams have played in MLS over its history, and 15 have won the MLS Cup. Three clubs no longer exist (Tampa Bay Mutiny, Miami Fusion, and Chivas USA), but none of these ever played in or won an MLS Cup Final.
From those 15 different champions, seven clubs have won more than one MLS Cup. Two clubs stand out though, having won a combined nine of the 27 total MLS Cups played to date.
5 wins: LA Galaxy
4 wins: D.C. United
2 wins: Houston Dynamo, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, Columbus Crew, San Jose Earthquakes
1 win: Chicago Fire, Portland Timbers, Toronto FC, Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids, Atlanta United, NYCFC, LAFC
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Fun facts and oddities
Four clubs have appeared in at least one MLS Cup Final but have failed to win. The New York Red Bulls, FC Dallas, and Philadelphia Union have all done this once. Remarkably, the New England Revolution has been to the final five times and has yet to win it all.
D.C. United was an early dynasty in the league, winning three of the first four MLS Cups. Likewise, the LA Galaxy nabbed three of their record five total Cups in a four-year span from 2011-2014.
The Chicago Fire came out strong, winning the MLS Cup in their debut season in 1998 (they also won the U.S. Open Cup that year).
The flip side of glory is futility, and there are 13 MLS clubs who have never won the Cup, nor appeared in it. These are (defunct teams in italics):
Tampa Bay Mutiny
Inter Miami CF
Orlando City SC
Minnesota United FC
St. Louis City SC
The 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs are currently underway, with the conference semifinal round coming up on November 25.
Orlando and Cincinnati have a chance to make their first appearance in an MLS Cup Final. Meanwhile, Philadelphia, fresh off losing the final in 2022, has a chance to be first-time winners as well.
You can watch every MLS Cup Playoff game on MLS Season Pass.
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