Unlike other domestic sports leagues and many foreign soccer leagues, where as few as two teams are in the running for the title every year, Major League Soccer has parity. For perennially cellar dwelling Pittsburgh Pirates fans, that means there's an even playing field and your season isn't a wash one month into it.

In the first 15 years of the U.S. soccer league’s existence, 12 of its 16 teams made it to the MLS Cup championship final and nine different teams won the trophy (D.C. United, Chicago Fire, Kansas City Wizards, San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles Galaxy, Houston Dynamo, Columbus Crew, Real Salt Lake, and Colorado Rapids—see above). Even with two expansion teams joining the league in 2011, the silver is still up for grabs like Hugh Hefner at a pool party.

MLS parity is due, in part, to a salary cap that prevents big market teams from spending wildly and stockpiling all the talent, but also to a wacky, conference-crossing, 10-team playoff system that can be won by any team that squeezes in (most international leagues are won by simply accumulating the most points—three for a win, one for a draw—over the course of the season).

Seriously, Pirates fans, there are other places besides massage parlors to come up on a happy ending.