Rivalry games highlight 2020 MLS regular season return in home markets

Cristian Pavon - LA Galaxy - el trafico

The 2020 MLS regular season returns after the MLS is Back Tournament, with the first phase schedule released Saturday as clubs return to home markets.

Here's a rundown of rivalry matchups you won't want to miss across MLS during August and September. 

El Trafico

Who: LAFC vs. LA Galaxy
When: Saturday, Aug. 22 at 6 pm ET | Banc of California Stadium (FOX) & Sunday, Sept. 6 (time TBD) | Dignity Health Sports Park

Catch the latest El Trafico on FOX, where there will be no shortage of storylines to track. Perhaps Carlos Vela will be back in the LAFC starting XI after missing the MLS is Back Tournament for family reasons. Even without the reigning MVP, head coach Bob Bradley’s team still had an electric offense, including a 6-2 thrashing of the Galaxy on July 18 in Group F. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez could be back for the Galaxy, after his calf injury originally came with a three-to-four week recovery timeline. They’ll also meet Sept. 6 at Dignity Health Sports Park. 

Hudson River Derby

Who: New York Red Bulls vs. NYCFC
When: Thursday, Aug. 20 at 7 pm ET | Red Bull Arena

Will New York be red or blue? The passion of the Hudson River Derby returns to Red Bull Arena early as play gets underway in home markets. It’ll mark the Red Bulls’ chance to prove their Group E ouster at the MLS is Back Tournament wasn’t a harbinger of what’s to come. Meanwhile, NYCFC are still searching for second gear under head coach Ronny Deila. These Eastern Conference foes split the 2019 season series with a pair of 2-1 results.

Texas Derby

Who: Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas
When: Friday, Aug. 21 at 8 pm ET | BBVA Stadium & Monday, Sept. 14 at 8:30 pm ET | Toyota Stadium

FC Dallas will look to keep El Capitan for a third year, with last year’s trophy coming after a 5-1 rout over Houston. But this is also Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos’ first taste of the Texas Derby, so there’s some new energy around the Lone Star State. Houston narrowly missed out on a Knockout Round spot at the MLS is Back Tournament, while Dallas were withdrawn early due to COVID-19 concerns. 

Rocky Mountain Cup

Who:Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake
When: Saturday, Aug. 22 at 9 pm ET | Dick’s Sporting Goods Park & Saturday, Sept, 12 at 9:30 pm ET | Rio Tinto Stadium

This derby’s belonged to Real Salt Lake as of late, with the Claret and Cobalt even snagging a 2-0 win during Group D play at the MLS is Back Tournament. They’re undefeated in five matches against Colorado, with the Rapids’ last victory coming on Oct. 15, 2017. If you’re looking for Homegrown talent, this matchup has no shortage behind the likes of outside backs Aaron Herrera and Sam Vines

Florida Derby

Who: Inter Miami vs. Orlando City
When: Saturday, Aug. 22 at 8 pm ET | Inter Miami CF Stadium & Saturday, Sept. 12 at 7:30 pm ET | Exploria Stadium

Inter Miami remain in search of their first win in MLS, and there’d be no sweeter way to achieve that than against Orlando City. Florida bragging rights will be on the line for the second time in roughly six weeks, with the Lions grabbing a 2-1 win over Miami July 8 to begin the MLS is Back Tournament. That ignited an inspired showing from Nani and others, with Oscar Pareja’s team advancing to the Final presented by Wells Fargo. The season’s third Florida Derby is scheduled for Sept. 12 at Exploria Stadium. 

Cascadia Cup

Who:Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders
When: Sunday, Aug. 23 at 10 pm ET | Providence Park (FS1) & Sunday, Sept. 6 at 10 pm ET | CenturyLink Field

One of the best MLS rivalries comes to FS1. Portland will be surging with confidence after Sebastian Blanco powered them to the MLS is Back Tournament Final, while Diego Chara and Diego Valeri continue to defy Father Time. As for the defending MLS Cup champions Sounders, they’re searching for steadiness after a Round of 16 exit at the hands of LAFC. 

Hell is Real Derby

Who: FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC
When: Saturday, Aug. 29 at 7:30 pm ET | Nippert Stadium & Sunday, Sept. 6 at 7:30 pm ET | MAPFRE Stadium

FC Cincinnati are still searching for their first Hell is Real victory, but there’s some renewed confidence around the club after head coach Jaap Stam engineered a Round of 16 berth at the MLS is Back Tournament. Still there's the cold reminder that Columbus cruised to a 4-0 win in Group E back on July 11. The Crew were hoping for a deeper run in Orlando, only to be bounced by Minnesota United on penalty kicks