There's no MLS rivalry like this one
How great is it finally this past weekend that the best rivalry in all of MLS resumed?
Hardcore DC United fans would tell you the Metros are a great "Atlantic Cup" rival. But a lopsided scorecard - DC's 4 MLS Cups, to the Metros, zero, ziltch, nil - doesn't make a very a good rivalry.
Although it took a while initially as the Clash went from crashing out of the playoffs to champions under the new but old moniker Earthquakes, San Jose and the Galaxy have by far been the standard bearer for what a rivalry should be. Take note, "Real-Rapids Cup".
You see the only "Cup" the Galaxy and the Earthquakes vie for is the MLS Cup. Need I say more? Yes, I do.
The teams have been so dominant, the road to the MLS Cup has always included San Jose or L.A. In fact, one of the two teams has appeared in every Western conference Final or league semifinal, except one, 1997 when Colorado beat Dallas to advance to 1997 MLS Cup.
We could go down the list of memorable matches over the previous nine years and of course, the rivalry took on a whole new meaning when the two met for the 2001 MLS Cup.
Part of it is rooted in good ol' fashioned Southern California v. Northern California. I have always contended somewhere about Gorman you could split the state in half and make it 51 states and no one would really care. The fact both halves combine to make the world's 7th largest economy, has little to do with the common disdain NorCal has for SoCal from politics, water, traffic, lifestyle, weather and of course sports. And the Galaxy and San Jose aren't any different.
Let's not mention the numerous players that have worn both jerseys. Of course, I need to point out the current of player movement has been upstream, if you will, up the 5 Interstate to San Jose. That's a big reason why the LAG can always lay stake and take some credit for the Earthquakes title triumphs with several key SJ players discovered, drafted and developed by the Galaxy.
However, the familiarity hasn't really always helped with the Galaxy winning 21 of the previous 35 regular season encounters and losing to San Jose in L.A. three times. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
It's a shame the Earthquakes are more than likely playing their last season in San Jose. No matter what, it will never be the same. No more trips to Spartan. No more small confines and blind corners. Treasure this past weekend for what is the end but also a new beginning of just another chapter in the greatest rivalry in MLS.
Until next time, see you from the top.
Allen Hopkins is the L.A. Galaxy's color commentator on FSN West and FSN West2, in addition to his commentator duties on Fox Soccer Channel. He can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author's, and not necessarily those of the Los Angeles Galaxy or Major League Soccer.