On October 20, 1996, the league hosted its inaugural championship, MLS Cup '96. Today the MLS Cup is typically held in early December featuring the winners of the Eastern Conference Championship and Western Conference Championship. During its history, the MLS Cup has been represented by three different trophies: the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy from 1996 through 1998, a redesigned Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy from 1999 through 2007, and the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy since 2008.
The winner of Major League Soccer's MLS Cup, the final match of the MLS Cup Playoffs, determines that season's league champion. The playoff tournament is organized by the league at the conclusion of the regular season in a format similar to other North American professional sports leagues. The tournament is open to the top six clubs of the Eastern and Western Conference.
The first MLS Cup final was played on October 20, 1996. As of 2014, the record for the most championships is held by the Los Angeles Galaxy with five cup titles. The championship has been won by the same team in two or more consecutive years on three occasions. The cup is held by the Los Angeles Galaxy who defeated the New England Revolution in the 2014 final.