The MLS Cup is the championship game of Major League Soccer, which is the premier professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. The winner of the MLS Cup is awarded the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy, which replaced the Alan I Rothenberg Trophy in 2008 and is the most prestigious trophy in MLS. The MLS Cup has been contested every season since the founding of the league in 1996. From 1996 to 2011, the MLS Cup Final was played at a predetermined location similar to the way the NFL does with the Super Bowl. The MLS Cup was contested at stadiums in Ontario, Washington, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, and Washington D.C. and Texas. Following the 2011 MLS Cup, Major League Soccer changed the format and the leagues championship game is now contested at the home stadium of the qualifying team with the highest point’s total. The winner of the MLS Cup is guaranteed spot in the CONCAF Champions League.
The first MLS Cup was contested on October 20th, 1996 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The game featured the premier team from the MLS West in the L.A. Galaxy, and the premier team from MLS East in the D.C. United. The game would go on to be one of the most memorable in the history of Major League Soccer. D.C. United would come back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Galaxy 3-2 in extra time. The game would cement the MLS Cup as one of the most anticipated sporting events in North American Sports, and sparked the D.C. United – L.A. Galaxy rivalry that would become one of the biggest soccer rivalries in the world.