D.C. United are an American professional soccer club based in Washington, D.C. The club competes as a member of the Eastern Conference in Major League Soccer (MLS), the top level of professional American soccer. The franchise began play in 1996 as one of the ten charter clubs of the league. The club was one of the most successful clubs in the early years of MLS, winning eight of its thirteen titles between 1996 and 1998 under then head coach Bruce Arena. United holds the joint MLS record for most Supporters Shields, has four MLS Cups, and been crowned U.S. Open Cup champions three times. It is also the first club to win both the MLS Supporters Shield and MLS Cup consecutively.