Rivalry Week

Five moments that shaped MLS Heineken Rivalry Week in 2021

Heineken Rivalry Week has come and gone, leaving us with some indelible moments. Ten matches across two weekends – with a memorable MLS All-Star Game presented by Target sandwiched between – provided plenty of spice, some late dramatics and bragging rights for supporters to boast about on social media.

Let’s look back at five of the biggest moments from Heineken Rivalry Week, but first here are three honorable mentions.

  • Sounders rally late in MLS Cup rivalry rematch: It was shaping up to be a much-needed win for the struggling Columbus Crew, especially when Bradley Wright-Phillips broke a scoreless stalemate in the 77th minute. But Xavier Arreaga leveled in the 88th minute and Will Bruin scored the winner a minute later as the Sounders claimed all three points (2-1 win) in improbable fashion.
  • Remi Walter red card vs. Loons: So much for the “Nicest Rivalry in Sports.” Sporting KC midfielder Remi Walter was sent off in the 21st minute for a late challenge on Emanuel Reynoso, leaving Sporting handicapped for 70-plus minutes of a 0-0 draw at Allianz Field. Both managers had plenty to say after, with Peter Vermes disputing the merits of the sending off in an epic press conference, while Loons boss Adrian Heath vented about Reynoso being fouled.
  • New York Derby washout: Always one of the most anticipated matches of the season, especially on both sides of the George Washington Bridge, the latest chapter of the New York Derby never materialized. Delayed for more than two hours due to severe weather, the on-site officials determined the pitch was unplayable for NYCFC and the Red Bulls.
A Berry dramatic ending to Hell is Real

The Crew had already lost six in a row, including a heartbreaker to the Sounders in their last match at Lower.com Field. And then the defending MLS Cup champions fell behind to rival FC Cincinnati in the 74th minute.

But Miguel Berry provided the heroics with an 81st-minute equalizer and the winner two minutes later.

“There’s not many teams who lose six in a row and then go down 2-1 with 13 minutes to go that can pull out a result like that,” Crew coach Caleb Porter said after the 3-2 win. “That’s pretty incredible, guys.”

El Trafico delivers again

The match may have been missing two of MLS' biggest stars – Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Carlos Vela – due to injury, but there was still plenty of madness in another El Trafico thriller Saturday at Banc of California Stadium.

Brian Rodriguez and Dejan Joveljic exchanged braces, with Rodriguez’s mazy run through the Galaxy backline serving up one of the goals of the season. And just when it looked like LAFC would get three much-needed points, Kevin Cabral netted the equalizer four minutes from full time to earn a share a 3-3 draw.

The Ricardo Pepi/Jesus Ferreira show

While things heated up after halftime in El Trafico, there were goals galore in the opening 45 minutes of Sunday's Texas rivalry matchup at Q2 Stadium. The bad news for the home fans in Austin? FC Dallas scored four of the five first-half goals.

The damage was done by FCD's young dynamic duo of Ricardo Pepi and Jesus Ferreira, who both struck for first-half braces in an emphatic 5-3 win.

“I feel like our chemistry is great on and off the field," said the 18-year-old Pepi, who scored the winning penalty for MLS against Liga MX in the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target and received his first USMNT call-up this week. "We just play for each other. We love playing with each other. We love combining and it just makes it easy on the field.”

Jeremy Ebobisse opens his account in Cali Clasico

It's always nice to score for your new team after a blockbuster trade. But to do so in a derby match? Nothing better.

That’s what Jeremy Ebobisse did in the original MLS California derby, breaking a goalless draw in the 52nd minute and helping the San Jose Earthquakes claim a 2-1 victory over the host LA Galaxy. It was his sixth goal against the Galaxy in seven all-time appearances. The Quakes are now unbeaten in their last 10, dating back to a 3-1 Cali Clasico defeat on June 26, and are one point below the playoff line in the Western Conference.

A Cascadia climax to Heineken Rivalry Week

Heineken Rivalry Week fittingly closed at Lumen Field, where the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers renewed the oldest rivalry in American soccer. The Timbers, also desperate for a win, exacted some revenge for a lopsided home defeat to the Sounders two weeks ago, by handing the hosts a 2-0 defeat Sunday night.

On the same field where he suffered a crushing season-ending ACL injury in 2020, Sebastian Blanco came full circle with the opening tally and Felipe Mora put the match away with a stoppage-time insurance goal after the Sounders thrice rattled the crossbar. The win came at a cost, though, with influential midfielder Eryk Williamson leaving the match in the first half with what head coach Giovanni Savarese dubbed an ACL injury.