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Five Ingredients of a Good MLS Rivalry--And a Poll!

Rivalries are forged over time. Some are prepackaged by TV marketers. Tell me, B-Dub readers, what makes a rivalry? Here are my five! (And don't forget to take the poll at the bottom!)

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On May 7, the Colorado Rapids will play Real Salt Lake in the second leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup.  RSL is up 1-0 on aggregate, but the way the Rapids have been playing, I like our chances to win or at least make it interesting.  This is an intense rivalry.

Terms matter. Definitions matter. Words cannot mean what we want them to mean--words mean what they mean.  Take, for instance, the word 'rivalry.' The basic definition? "Competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field." Reading this, it would seem that any game anywhere would be classified as a rivalry.  Is there more to this than just playing for superiority, i.e. winning?  Let's look into other aspects:

  1. Geography. Some are obvious: New York Red Bulls vs New York City FC; FC Dallas vs Houston Dynamo; Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC.  Seattle vs Portland (voted by MLS fans in 2015 as the #1 rivalry) Even with the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake being eight hours apart, being King of the Rockies means something. What other rivalries have spawned over the years due to geography?
  2. Hardware: On May 7th, the Colorado Rapids play Real Salt Lake in the second leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup. Seattle and Vancouver play for the Cascadia Cup. Vancouver vs. Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact for the Canadian Championship. Houston vs FC Dallas in the Texas Derby. San Jose and the LA Galaxy have the California Clasico, which given their illustrious histories provide for some terrific moments. Where do you think the Rocky Mountain Cup ranks among the other 'cups' in MLS?
  3. History. DC United and the New York Red Bulls have the league's oldest rivalry, playing and being mostly dominated by DC United since 1996. As far as the Rapids are concerned, with Oscar Pareja's departure to FC Dallas, that piece of history adds to some of the rivalry with FC Dallas (not to mention our winning the 2010 MLS Cup at their expense). Any other rivalries based on history like this one?
  4. Repetition in momentous matches. The LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders fall into this category, seemingly meeting every year in the playoffs every year. Any other rivalries that have been shaped this way? Do the Rapids have one that falls into this category?
  5. Confrontations and controversies. The one that comes to mind of late is Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City. Though these teams seem to only be connected by being Interstate 70 (17 hours apart), everytime they take the pitch, a scuffle happens. These teams genuinely do not like each other for reasons that can't be explained by any other reason (other than meeting in the MLS Cup Final in 2013).
Whether prepackaged or through history, rivalries are built in some expected but also surprising ways.  What do you think? We have the smartest soccer fan base in MLS. Let's hear from you on Twitter or in the comments section.