The MLS Cup is the championship match of Major League Soccer, the highest tier of professional soccer in the United States and Canada. As the final match of the MLS Cup playoffs, the winner is crowned the season champion in the same manner as other North American sports leagues. The MLS Cup finalists are awarded CONCACAF Champions' League berths—the winner earning a spot in the group stage while the runner-up starts in the preliminary round.
On October 20, 1996, the league hosted its inaugural championship, MLS Cup '96. Today the MLS Cup is typically held in late November featuring the winners of the Eastern Conference Championship and Western Conference Championship. The cup champions have been awarded the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy since 2008 while the years prior saw two versions of the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy presented to winners.
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“Sunday morning may be cheery enough, with its extra cup of coffee and litter of Sunday newspapers, but there is always hanging over it the ominous threat of 3 P.M., when the sun gets around to the back windows and life stops dead in its tracks.”
—Robert Benchley (18891945)