Though Rivalry Week is full of great moments between rival clubs, no matchup has history that dates back to the inaugural year of Major League Soccer the way the Atlantic Cup rivalry does.
And so, in honor of Saturday’s 72nd all-time meeting between the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United (12:30 pm ET, NBC, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), we look back on the greatest moments in the history of the rivalry ... told by the people who remember it best.
Today, we recall a bitter low for the New York side of the rivalry. On July 3, 2004, D.C. pasted the MetroStars 6-2 at RFK, taking the lead on a blunder by New York goalkeeper Jonny Walker, a former US international who enjoyed an excellent career in South America and MLS.
But there was no joy for Walker in the 37th minute of this one, when, with the score tied 1-1, United striker Jaime Moreno dispossessed him in the box, rounded him and stuffed the ball into the empty net to give D.C. a 2-1 lead.
The goal opened the floodgates, and Moreno went on to set up two more in United’s rout. Walker was kind enough to share his memories of the gaffe…
If I had it to do over again, I would have gone for the meg [laughs].
No, it happens, what can you do? I haven’t seen the play in years, probably since it happened, but I remember a pass, a pass and then I got it back, and instead of just getting rid of it – I mean, I was always good with my feet; I liked to mess with it a little bit.
He just came on me a little quicker than I expected. I tried to do a drag back to my other foot. He got a poke on it, it went through my legs, and he was off to the races! Nobody else was there to save me, so… I had a chance to cut him down, but I thought, “No, I better not do that.” And that was it.
But that rivalry – what’s the best way to describe it? There was absolute, I guess hatred – especially between the fans. It was Eastern Conference, so you always got to see them. Always hated them. It was just good rivalry. And RFK was a tough place to play. They’ve got the Barra Brava. They are right on you.
It was the only place I played in the States that gave me a little bit of a feel of what I had in South America. Because they were right on you and they’d all get going with the drums and stuff. You felt the passion of the fans.
A lot of that passion spills over to the players. You can feel it. It’s one of those things. In that 6-2 game, well, the first goal, there was really nothing we could do. Then I gave up a poor one, but then after that, they didn’t stop. The fans wanted more. And the players feed on that. That’s how a game can go from 3-2, 4-2 to just push, push, pus – Hell, don’t stop at six, make it eight, kind of a thing.
At the end of the day, players come and go, but the fans are really what make a team. So that was the one thing I always thought was very cool about that club.