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What is the Supporters' Shield? Previous winners and everything you need to know about the MLS trophy

19:02 EAT 03/10/2022
Supporters Shield Matt Turner
GOAL looks at where the trophy came from and what it means.

As many people know, Major League Soccer operates differently than most other leagues in the world.

It's a league that includes a salary cap, Designated Players and a unique summer schedule, but perhaps the biggest difference is the focus on a playoff system.

In MLS, the postseason is king, with the winner of the MLS Cup recognized as the league's champions following a playoff tournament. Rather than a single-table, balanced format, MLS' focus is more Americanized, much like the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.

But there is still a prize for the league's best regular season team, a trophy given to the club that does finish atop the table when all is said and done: the Supporters' Shield.

But what is the Supporters' Shield? How did it come into existence? Who's won it and how?

GOAL has everything you need to know...

What is the Supporters' Shield?

When MLS was founded in 1996, there was no prize awarded for the top regular season team, who would receive only the top seed in the playoffs.

But, in 1997, Tampa Bay Mutiny fan Nick Lawrus proposed the idea of a "Supporters' Scudetto" to be awarded to the league's best regular season team, much like the league trophies won in leagues all over the world.

A committee was created, and the name was quickly changed to the Supporters' Shield, with the trophy becoming a reality by the 1999 season.

Previous winners Tampa Bay and D.C. United were inscribed on the new trophy, which has been given to the league's best regular season team ever since.

However, the trophy wasn't immediately recognized. Until 2006, the trophy was generally just a fan-led initiative, but that changed when U.S. Soccer decided that the Supporters' Shield winners would be given a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Who won the Supporters' Shield in 2022?

The 2022 Supporters' Shield was won by Los Angeles FC, who sealed their spot atop the MLS table with one game remaining in the MLS season.

Their triumph marks the second time they've won the trophy, having also claimed it in 2019.

In total, 15 different teams have won the trophy since its inception.

Full list of Supporters' Shield winners

Year

Club

Points

2022

LAFC

67*

2021

New England Revolution

73

2020

Philadelphia Union

47 (season shortened by Covid-19)

2019

LAFC

72

2018

New York Red Bulls

71

2017

Toronto FC

69

2016

FC Dallas

60

2015

New York Red Bulls

60

2014

Seattle Sounders

64

2013

New York Red Bulls

59

2012

San Jose Earthquakes

66

2011

LA Galaxy

67

2010

LA Galaxy

59

2009

Columbus Crew

49

2008

Columbus Crew

57

2007

D.C, United

55

2006

D.C. United

55

2005

San Jose Earthquakes

64

2004

Columbus Crew

49

2003

Chicago Fire

53

2002

LA Galaxy

51

2001

Miami Fusion

53

2000

Sporting KC

57

1999

D.C. United

57

1998

LA Galaxy

68

1997

D.C. United

55

1996

Tampa Bay Mutiny

58