DC United and New York. Los Angeles and San Jose. Portland and Seattle—Rivalries such as these have given to birth to many classic moments, such as Alecko Eskandarian's infamous goal celebration after scoring for DC against New York.
Rivalry matches help to get fans involved in the game, foster support for their home side and are always sources of new bragging rights for teams. After all, what would it be like to support a team and not have any other team to hate? Supporting your team against a hated rival is half of what makes all sports great and to me is one of the best parts of going to matches.
Even MLS Commissioner Don Garber feels that rivalries are important to the development of the league.
Collected here are FC Dallas' best rivalries through the years, including ones that I feel are starting to develop and deserve to be recognised.
If you think I missed something or want to add your own thoughts, feel free to comment below. Enjoy!
Oh man, do I hate the Chicago Fire
Chicago has given the world a few good things, including deep dish pizza. On the other hand they have also given us the Fire.
The rivalry with the Fire goes way back to when the Hoops were still known as the Dallas Burn. In 1998 when the MLS was looking to expand, they granted a team to Chicago, and the Fire were born.
Due to the competitive nature of the two teams in that period and not to mention the fact that many fans felt a little miffed over the apparent theft of Dallas' name this grew into one of the earliest MLS rivalries that attracted a lot of fans.
The two teams play for the Brimstone Cup every year, with the team with the better head-to-head record taking home the honors. Thus far the Hoops hold the advantage, having won the cup seven times to the Fire's one.
As with many rivalries, the competition was fueled early on by controversial moments such as when Dema Kovalenko broke Dallas defender Brandon Pollard's leg in what many Hoops fans consider the best reason to hate the Fire. Coincidentally enough Kovalenko would also go on to break another Dallas player's leg later on in his career while playing for DC. I have hypothesized in the past that his hatred for Dallas as a Chicago player bled over into the rest of his career, even after he had been traded away. Or maybe he was just a thug, who knows.
My first FC Dallas match was the second leg of the Brimstone Cup rivalry in 2010, and I will never forget the hatred of the Fire which helped make me a fan of Dallas. When the Fire are in town, you can expect to hear plenty chants of "Piss on the Fire!" coming from the Inferno.
I often wonder why Houston has been given so many franchises. I figure the reason is that the owners of the various sports leagues must feel bad for the people living there so they decided to give them something to focus on other than the fact that they're living in Houston.
History then tells us that Houston won back-to-back MLS Cups in its first two years in the league. This is a lie though, perpetrated by desperate Houston fans looking for something, anything to cling to.
Everyone knows that those two cups belong to San Jose, as the majority of the players and staff who played for the Earthquakes merely moved to Houston. They simply played with a different name for those two seasons. As such, many Dallas fans refuse to recognize the Dime-A-Ho's first two years of existence despite Houston's sad attempts to remind us of those false victories. To be fair though, we got them back for those sad attempts, not once, not twice, but thrice.
The two teams battle over El Capitan, a cannon that currently resides with Dallas and which is fired after FC Dallas victories, which happens to be something Houston can't do thanks to a clause in their stadium lease. Despite that clause, the Dynamo are currently edging out Dallas in the competition, capturing the cannon three times in five competitions.
Just another one of those small things that makes Dallas better than Houston.
Lamar Hunt was a man who did a lot for the development of soccer in this country. He was one of the men who helped found the NASL back in the 1970s as well as being one of the founders of the MLS. When the league started he owned Kansas City and the Columbus Crew and helped finance Columbus' stadium, one of the first soccer-specific stadiums in the country.
For his efforts to promote the beautiful game in the United States he was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
At the time of his death, Hunt owned the Crew and FC Dallas. In an attempt to honor his memory, the two teams began a competition for the Lamar Hunt Pioneer Cup in 2007. Originally the competition consisted of a single preseason match but starting in 2011 it was determined by which team had the better record against each other in regular season play. As of right now Dallas has the edge, winning the Cup two times in three competitions thus far.
In addition to the trophy, players of both teams have the letters "LH" on their jersey in honor of Hunt and a statue of him stands in Pizza Hut Park.
While this rivalry is new, the matches over it thus far have been quite hotly contested. And in the next few years as it develops, it will become one of Dallas' better rivalries, a suiting tribute to what Lamar Hunt did for both teams.
The video above is all the reason any Dallas fan will ever need to hate the Red Bulls.
Many people who want to defend Henry will say that he wasn't trying to injure Kevin Hartman, but that still doesn't explain why he would do such a bizarre thing as kick the ball away when play was clearly over. I've seen players get cautioned for kicking the ball away unnecessarily, but Henry got nothing, even when it became clear that Hartman had some serious damage done to his knee.
Henry later said that he was trying to kick the ball back into the net, but you can plainly see from the footage that the ball was not going to go in the net at all from the way he kicked it, part of what makes his story suspicious.
The lack of suspension for the bizarre incident stung even more considering that Brek Shea had been shown a straight red for an earlier tackle in the match which looked pretty tame in comparison given the injury incurred. Some would consider it the MLS doing its best to protect the league's newest big name arrival that year but I won't go so far as to say that.
Hartman would go out for a good portion of the last part of the season with a knee injury which would coincidentally also happen to Henry. The two incidents highlighted one of the most grueling and combative matches I've ever seen, and definitely convinced me that these two teams have beef with each other. Matches against New York are always fun to watch if you're a Dallas supporter and you can bet I'll be in the stands in September to voice my dislike of the Red Bulls when they come to town.
While Dallas has yet to win the MLS Cup, their US Open Cup victory in 1997 puts them a step ahead of New York, who are the only original member of the MLS who have yet to win any sort of significant trophy.
I expect the Dallas and New York grudge matches to become a bigger rivalry in the future, given that they are already very physical and hotly debated as-is.
What could be better than this one?
Both Dallas and Real Salt Lake are teams full of talent, which naturally leads to a very competitive spirit between. Especially considering that both are fighting for playoff spots in the same conference.
Matches between the Hoops and Real Salt Lake (or Real Salt Fish if you prefer the nickname bestowed upon them by the Dallas faithful) are always hard-fought affairs, full of fouls, lots of physicality and always end with one side protesting the refs and the other collectively grinning over their win. There is no love lost between the two sides, a fact which has become even more clear following Dallas' tough wins over RSL in the playoffs last year which helped take the Hoops to the MLS Cup.
This year, Dallas and RSL met twice in less than a week, once in regular season play and once in US Open Cup play, with both matches proving to be hotly contested affairs. In the end, the teams split the two games with Dallas advancing in the US Open Cup but losing the regular season match. Once again, both teams' supporters had a new reason to hate each others team yet again.
RSL is going to be one of the obstacles in FC Dallas' path to the MLS Cup for years to come. As such. this budding rivalry, one of the most hotly developing ones in the MLS, will continue to grow until it becomes a classic. Personally, I can't wait to see how ugly it gets.