The Colorado Rapids have been a part of Major League Soccer since the inaugural season in 1996, and along the way, have made a few friends—and many more enemies. While the Burgundy Boys’ biggest rival is surely Real Salt Lake, the club has plenty of bad blood with clubs outside of the Rocky Mountain region.
Let’s look at three clubs with which the Rapids have a particularly controversial past.
Dallas Burn/FC Dallas
All-Time Record (30-37-19)
The first club on this list is a fellow MLS original, FC Dallas (formerly known as the Dallas Burn). Our first-ever home match was played against Dallas—a 3-1 win for the Rapids with Marcelo Balboa scoring in his ‘Pids debut.
In more recent years, there have been plenty of thrilling moments between these two sides. Of course, for Rapids fans, the most famous match was the 2010 MLS Cup Final, where the Rapids secured their only MLS Cup trophy in club history. In 2006, the Rapids knocked Dallas out of the playoffs in a penalty shootout and Dallas keeper Dario Sala literally punched two Rapids players.
In the 2016 U.S. Open Cup, FC Dallas sub Agustin Jara put in a horror tackle on Dillon Serna, tearing his ACL and taking the homegrown out for the rest of the year. The year before, Colorado defeated Dallas 4-0 in Toyota Stadium, with a beautiful goal by Serna himself—a match that Rapids fans still remember fondly in an otherwise-forgettable 2015 campaign.
To sum it up:
All-Time Record (3-2-1)
Though Minnesota have only been in the league for three seasons, there has been stiff competition (albeit at the bottom of the table most times) between these two teams since MNUFC entered the league.
The watershed moment for this rivalry was in October of 2018, when Rapids forward Niki Jackson scored a late goal to put the Burgundy Boys up 2-0 in Minnesota, in what was already a very controversial match. Rapids defender Tommy Smith celebrated the goal in front of the Loons bench. They took exception to this, and a brawl ensued, ending with three ejections: Smith and Minnesota’s Harrison Heath and goalkeeper coach John Pascarella. After a DisCo review, more punishments were handed out.
“Minnesota away at Gopher Stadium. Tommy Smith standing down the crowd after a late win is a favorite against the Loons,” Dave Wegner remembered on Twitter.
(I also went to this game and had obscenities yelled at me on the train back to our hotel.)
Fully half of the matches between these two sides have seen red cards. Although this rivalry is young, the intensity and hatred is there, and this rivalry, in my opinion, is our second biggest behind RSL. Considering we have Minnesota in our group in the MLS is Back Tournament, and both teams got off to an electric start to the season, it’s very possible we may see more fireworks when these sides meet in Orlando.
KC Wizards/Sporting Kansas City
All-Time Record (26-31-18)
As the closest team geographically to Colorado other than RSL, SKC were an obvious inclusion in this list. Our first match against Kansas City was our first-ever match as an MLS club (which ended in a 3-0 loss for the Rapids), but despite the close geographic proximity between these two sides, and how many times they’ve played each other (75 times, if my research is correct), there doesn’t seem that much disdain and hatred between these two sides and their fanbases. If anything, the fanbases seem to get along fairly well.
Regardless, the clubs have had some very intense matches and there’s too much history between them to not include SKC.
The most famous moment in recent years comes courtesy of Tim Howard, who was suspended after getting in a shouting match with some Sporting fans in in 2017 and even allegedly grabbed an opposing fan.
Some Rapids fans remember meeting Kansas City in the playoffs in 2011, where, in the Conference Semifinals, the Rapids lost 4-0 on aggregate to SKC across two legs. On Twitter, Jared Thornburgh recalled, “seems like there were three Rapids players carted off with serious injuries.”
In 2019, red cards were passed out both times these teams met, and in 2017, Roger Espinoza saw red for a pretty nasty tackle on Kevin Doyle.
Colorado and SKC also find themselves in the same group in the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando and will face off on July 17. Will this rivalry take on a new identity? Both sides were off to great starts in MLS before play was suspended.