FRISCO, Texas - October 16, 1999. Midfielder Oscar Pareja helped the Dallas Burn win a playoff game over the Chicago Fire at the Cotton Bowl, the sixth straight Dallas win to set a club record that has yet to be broken.
Fast forward to Sunday, and Pareja, now the head coach of FC Dallas, has a chance to reach that mark again, this time from the sideline instead of the field. The opponent is familiar, as Dallas, winner of five straight games (the longest such streak in MLS this year), take on Chicago once again (Sunday, 7pm ET, FOX Sports 1, FOX Deportes in US, TSN2 in Canada), this time on the road in Bridgeview, Illinois.
“It’s exciting,” Pareja said when told that his current squad could tie the 1999 team. “It makes me feel even more responsible to keep working during the week and preparing for the game that has such a great importance for everybody.”
While the Texas Derby with the Houston Dynamo may be Dallas’ most obvious rivalry, the Brimstone Cup with Chicago is one of the league's oldest. Named in homage to the teams' original, incendiary nicknames, the rivalry dates back to Chicago's expansion season 1998.
Dallas have had the upper hand in the rivalry, holding a 20-14-4 lead over Chicago in regular-season play, and has found more success of late, the matchup has still proven to be an intense one over the years.
“They were [always] two great teams that fought all-in every single game, because the Polish guys were specialties at that,” Pareja recalled of the Dallas-Chicago rivalry. “They made our games very intense and physical.”
The rivalry also holds some history, however, that does not bode so well for FC Dallas: Not only did Chicago win last season’s lone matchup 1-0, (see highlights above), but the result also ended a 10-game Dallas unbeaten streak.
Most FC Dallas players are too young to remember the 1999 club that rattled off six straight – some of them were still in diapers – they certainly remember last year's game, and they see added significance in picking up these three points in particular.
“I guess you could say it puts a little more emphasis on it in the back of our heads,” midfielder Victor Ulloa, who was 7 years old when the 1999 team won six straight, told MLSsoccer.com. “We read it. We know if we win, we’ll make history. So to make that history, we’ll take it and are looking forward to it.”