As the MLS season approaches, MLSsoccer.com marks each passing day with a different statistic, observation or talking point, setting the stage for March 2.
12 – Number of teams who have appeared in MLS Cup
It was a long time coming, but as of three finals ago, all nine teams that remain in MLS from the league's 1996 inception have reached an MLS Cup. FC Dallas made it to the big show in 2010, eventually falling to Colorado, finally giving every team that participated in the inagural MLS season a chance at the trophy. Add to those teams the Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake, and you have 12 MLS Cup finalists.
At the same time, there are still seven teams that have not had the opportunity to claim MLS' ultimate prize: Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Chivas USA, Montreal, Toronto FC and Philadelphia.
Perhaps the most noticeable feature that all seven teams share is that they all entered the league in 2005 or later. So don't worry if your team hasn't reached an MLS Cup yet, it takes some time to lay the foundation.
Of the teams yet to reach the pinnacle of MLS play, the Sounders seem the most likely to do so, having reached the postseason each of their four seasons, only to fall short of the Cup. But let's not to count out the Whitecaps, who could build upon a first-ever playoff appearance, or the Union and Timbers, who have built intriguing young squads.
Will we see another team break into the group of MLS Cup finalists? In today's parity happy league, it'll probably happen sooner rather than later. On the other hand, a third straight Houston-LA final doesn't seem so far-fetched either.