Alan Rothenberg at a launch event in October 1995

Changing of the guard? For first time ever, no founding MLS clubs in Conference Finals

It took 24 years, but the old guard of Major League Soccer are excluded from the Conference Finals stage of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time ever. 

That's a striking observation made by SoccerAmerica's Paul Kennedy, who's covered the league since its inception and took note of the fact that this year's final four is made up entirely of expansion teams:

Kennedy calls this "a watershed moment" for the league; read his full rundown here.

MLS launched in 1996 with 10 member teams: The Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas), Kansas City Wiz (now Sporting KC), LA Galaxy, New England Revolution, NY/NJ MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls), San Jose Clash (now Earthquakes) and Tampa Bay Mutiny (shuttered in 2001). Their inaugural kits and colors can be seen in the photo at top.

Five of those originals qualified for this year's postseason: D.C., Dallas, New England, the Galaxy and RBNY. The Galaxy made the deepest run of that quintet, advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals before falling 5-3 to their crosstown rivals LAFC. View the full Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs bracket here.