Supporters' Shield

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Supporters' Shield
MLS Supporters' Shield.png
Awarded for Major League Soccer team with the best record in the regular season
Presented by The Supporter's Shield Foundation
First awarded 1999
Currently held by Seattle Sounders FC (first shield)
Most awards DC United and LA Galaxy (four shields each)

The Supporters' Shield is an annual award given to the Major League Soccer team with the best regular season record, as determined by the MLS points system. The Supporters' Shield has been annually awarded at the MLS Supporters' Summit since 1999, and has been recognized as a major trophy by the league. It echoes the practice of top leagues around the world in which the team with the best record is the champion. Since 2006, the Supporters' Shield winner has earned a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League.

D.C. United and L.A. Galaxy, with four Supporters' Shields each, have won the most shields of any MLS team. The Seattle Sounders FC are the defending 2014 Supporters' Shield winners.


Supporters conceive and fundraise for trophy[edit]

When Major League Soccer had its inaugural season in 1996, the league resembled its contemporary North American leagues. After the regular season, the campaign culminated with the MLS Cup Playoffs, en route to the postseason championship match, the MLS Cup. The club with the best regular season record received nothing more than the top seed in the playoffs.

A longtime South Florida soccer fan originally proposed the notion of a "Supporters' Scudetto", as a result of the Tampa Bay Mutiny earning the best regular season record but failing to win the 1996 MLS Cup final. A committee composed of members of all MLS teams' supporters changed the name to "Supporters's Shield" but, due to disagreements between members of the committee, the proposal failed to come to fruition.[1]

The following year, another group led by a soccer enthusiast Sam Pierron tried to revive the idea by giving an award to the regular season champions.[1] Since MLS refused to fund the idea, Pierron began fundraising to purchase a trophy with the help of supporters from various MLS clubs. Fundraising was boosted with the assistance of ESPN's MLS commentator (at the time) Phil Schoen donating for the award. In the end, nearly $3,000 was donated to commission the trophy, which was made by artist Paula Richardson out of Sterling Silver sheet metal, for $2,200.[2]

The money donated to create and purchase the trophy was not fulfilled until the tail end of the 1999 season, when the second MLS Supporters' Summit was held. DC United is the first currently active MLS club to win the Supporters' Shield.

Shield Awarding and Tiebreakers[edit]

Since the 2000 season, the system of awarding points in Major League Soccer is the same as the international standard, three points for a win, one for a draw, and no points for a loss. As of the 2014 season, new rules are in place for breaking ties. In the event of an end-of-season tie in total accumulated points, the following tie-breakers will be used:

  1. Most Wins
  2. Goal Difference (GD)
  3. Goals For (GF)
  4. Fewest Disciplinary Points
  5. Road Goals
  6. Road GD
  7. Home Goals
  8. Home GD
  9. Coin Toss (two teams) or Drawing of Lots (three or more teams)

These are standard MLS regulations for breaking ties in point totals.[3]

Throughout the early to mid-2000s, the Shield received little praise or recognition from MLS or the general public,[citation needed] as the league awarded the MLS Cup winner and runner-up with spots in continental tournaments.

First Shield incentives arrive[edit]

In February 2006, USSF decided that the Supporters' Shield winner and the MLS Cup winner would represent the United States in the CONCACAF Champions League, formerly the CONCACAF Champions' Cup.[4] If the Supporters Shield winner also wins the MLS Cup, the team with the second highest regular season point total qualifies as well.[5] When the Champions Cup became the CONCACAF Champions League, the United States Soccer Federation gave the Supporters' Shield winner and the MLS Cup winner both direct Group Stage spots into the tournament.

On six occasions (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2008 and 2011) the winner of the Supporters' Shield also won the MLS Cup that same year. In 2011, the league announced that the Shield winner's opponent in the MLS Cup quarterfinals would be the lowest-seeded team remaining.


Frankie Hejduk of Columbus Crew, was part of the team's three Shield winning campaigns.

Season Winner Record Points[B] /
Pts per game
MLS Cup Result Win #
Games Won Lost Tied[A]
1996 Tampa Bay Mutiny 32 20 12 58 / 1.81 Lost Conference Finals (DC) 1
1997 D.C. United 32 21 11 55 / 1.72 Won MLS Cup 1
1998 Los Angeles Galaxy 32 24 8 68 / 2.12 Lost Conference Finals (CHI) 1
1999 D.C. United 32 23 9 57 / 1.78 Won MLS Cup 2
2000 Kansas City Wizards 32 16 7 9 57 / 1.78 Won MLS Cup 1
2001 Miami Fusion 26 16 5 5 53 / 2.04 Lost Semifinals (SJ) 1
2002 Los Angeles Galaxy 28 16 9 3 51 / 1.82 Won MLS Cup 2
2003 Chicago Fire 30 15 7 8 53 / 1.77 Lost MLS Cup (SJ)^ 1
2004 Columbus Crew 30 12 5 13 49 / 1.63 Lost Conference Semifinals (NE) 1
2005 San Jose Earthquakes 32 18 4 10 64 / 2.00 Lost Conference Semifinals (LA) 1
2006 D.C. United 32 15 7 10 55 / 1.72 Lost Conference Finals (NE) 3
2007 D.C. United 30 16 7 7 55 / 1.83 Lost Conference Semifinals (CHI) 4
2008 Columbus Crew 30 17 7 6 57 / 1.90 Won MLS Cup 2
2009 Columbus Crew 30 13 7 10 49 / 1.63 Lost Conference Semifinals (RSL) 3
2010 Los Angeles Galaxy 30 18 7 5 59 / 1.97 Lost Conference Finals (FCD) 3
2011 Los Angeles Galaxy 34 19 5 10 67 / 1.97 Won MLS Cup 4
2012 San Jose Earthquakes 34 19 6 9 66 / 1.94 Lost Conference Semifinals (LA) 2
2013 New York Red Bulls 34 17 9 8 59 / 1.74 Lost Conference Semifinals (HOU) 1
2014 Seattle Sounders FC 34 20 10 4 64 / 1.88 Lost Conference Finals (LA) 1
   Team won the MLS Cup.


Luciano Emílio won the Golden Boot in 2007, the second year of D.C. United's back-to-back Shield winning seasons.
Number of wins per team
Wins Team
4 LA Galaxy
D.C. United
3 Columbus Crew SC
2 San Jose Earthquakes
1 Tampa Bay Mutiny
Sporting Kansas City
Miami Fusion
Chicago Fire
New York Red Bulls
Seattle Sounders FC
  • Defunct teams in italics.

Performance in CONCACAF competition[edit]

Before 2006, Shield winners were not necessarily guaranteed a berth into CONCACAF competitions. Most regular season champions to earn berths into CONCACAF competitions typically earned them from earning a berth into the MLS Cup, or earning a berth due to the number of berths allocated to the United States for MLS. Most times, the United States was allocated two berths into the tournament, which went to the MLS Cup champion and runner-up.

Since 2007, the Shield winner replaced the MLS Cup runner-up as the second American representative for the CONCACAF Champions' Cup. In 2008, with the arrival of the newly formatted CONCACAF Champions League, the Shield winner, along with the MLS Cup winner both earned direct byes into Group Stage of the Champions League.[6]

A Shield winner has never reached the final of a CONCACAF competition. On three separate occasions, D.C. United has reached the tournament semi-final after winning the Shield, the furthest that any Shield winner has progressed in CONCACAF competition. United also holds the record for the earliest exit in a CONCACAF competition as the Shield winner, being eliminated from Group Stage in the 2008–09 edition of the Champions League.[7]

Champions Runners-up Third place
  • QR1 = Qualification First Round
  • PR = Preliminary round
  • GS = Group Stage
  • R16 = Round of 16
  • QF = Quarterfinals
  • SF = Semifinals or Consolation match
  • F = Final
Performance table
Season Shield Winner Result
1997 Did not qualify
1999 Los Angeles Galaxy QR1
2000 D.C. United SF
2002 Kansas City Wizards SF
2003 Los Angeles Galaxy QF
2004 Chicago Fire SF
2005 Did not qualify
2007 D.C. United SF
2008 D.C. United SF
2008–09 D.C. United GS
2009–10 Columbus Crew QF
2010–11 Columbus Crew QF
2011–12 Los Angeles Galaxy QF
2012–13 Los Angeles Galaxy SF
2013–14 San Jose Earthquakes QF
2014–15 New York Red Bulls GS
2015–16 Seattle Sounders FC TBD

See also[edit]


A. ^ From 1996 until 1999, tied games were decided by a golden goal, culminating with a shootout
B. ^ From 1996 to 1999, 3 points were awarded for a win in 90 minutes, 1 point for a shootout win, and 0 point for a loss in 90 minutes or shootout. Since the 2000 season, 3 points are awarded for a win, 1 point for a tie, and 0 point for a loss.


  1. ^ a b "MLS 101: Supporters' Shield",, retrieved July 14, 2015 
  2. ^ Gates, Ryan (February 15, 2011). "A History of the Supporter's Shield". Stumptown Footy. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Competition Rules and Regulations". Major League Soccer. Retrieved September 23, 2013. 
  4. ^ Meagher, Tom (February 23, 2006). "Jeepers, Some Wishes Really Do Come True!". We Call it Soccer. Archived from the original on December 30, 2006. Retrieved September 11, 2011. 
  5. ^ MLS announces competition changes for 2006
  6. ^ "Qualifying Format Unveiled for 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League". CONCACAF. May 14, 2008. Archived from the original on December 26, 2008. Retrieved January 6, 2012. 
  7. ^ "CONCACAF Champions Cup/League History" (PDF). CONCACAF. Retrieved January 6, 2012. 

External links[edit]