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MLS CUP 2021

Which team has won most MLS championships?

Neither of the most successful sides in MLS history, DC United and LA Galaxy, will be in the MLS Cup with defending champions Columbus also absent.

Bobby Wood of Real Salt Lake is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the final minute during the Major League Soccer Playoff game against Sporting Kansas City at Children's Mercy Park on November 28, 2021.

The 2021 MLS Conference Finals will be played on 4 and 5 December as the season reaches its climax, with the winner of each game going through to contest the MLS Cup final on 11 December. The four teams in question - Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, Philadelphia Union and New York City – means there will be a new MLS champion crowned at a venue yet to be decided after 2020 winners Columbus Crew failed to qualify for the playoffs.

The Crew’s victory last season added another MLS Cup to the side’s laurels after their 2008 Guillermo Barros Schelotto-led triumph and Columbus are one of several sides to have secured a brace of MLS Cup titles, along with Sporting Kansas City, Seattle Sounders, San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo.

See also:

LA Galaxy and Landon Donovan hold MLS Cup record

The most successful side in the history of the MLS Cup though is LA Galaxy, who have lifted the trophy a record five times. Four of those wins (2005, 2011, 2012, 2014) came during the club’s long and profitable association with Landon Donovan, the USMNT’s joint top-scorer and second most-capped player of all time, who also won two MLS Cups while on loan at San Jose from Bayer Leverkusen (2001, 2003). Donovan’s haul makes him the most successful player in terms of MLS Cup wins in league history and he also holds the record for the most goals scored in the MLS Playoffs, with 25 in total.

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Jeff GrossGetty Images

The second most successful side in MLS Cup history is DC United, who have won the trophy four times from their five MLS Cup appearances (1996, 1997, 1999, 2004).

In terms of MLS Playoff appearances, no side can match the unfortunate record of the New York Red Bulls, who have made it to the post-season on 22 occasions but have only reached the MLS Cup once, in 2008 where they ran into Barros Schelotto and Columbus Crew, who prevailed 3-1.

The longest continuous appearance record belongs to the Sounders, who have made the playoffs every year since the club’s foundation in 2009 (13 consecutive playoffs), winning the MLS Cup in 2016 and 2019 but losing out to the Columbus Crew last season in the showpiece game.

MLS Conference Finals 2021

Portland welcome Real Salt Lake to Providence Park in the Western Conference final on Saturday 4 December, while in the Eastern Conference Philadelphia Union face New York City FC at Subaru Park on Sunday 5 December.