MLS Heineken Rivalry Week is in full swing, and we wanted to hear from the players themselves – what makes a rivalry? So we anonymously polled the captains of teams around MLS for their favorites, both at home and abroad, and posed a few other questions about some of the most heated matchups in MLS. Some of the answers might help ID their owners, and others will challenge you!
Here’s Part I, in which the players tell us who they think their team's biggest rival is, before looking across MLS and pick their own favorite rivalries. Check back for Part II tomorrow, which includes some unexpected answers on the best rivalries in world soccer, along with the captains talking tifo and what makes a rivalry.
Who is your team’s biggest rival?
"It’s Columbus since I’ve been here, but I think all-time the Revs are up there as well."
"I would say D.C. and New York [Red Bulls], you know. Both teams in the last few years we’ve had a lot of competition against them."
"Since I've been here, it's probably been Seattle more than anyone else. I think in terms of we're always close [in the table] and it's always a big, big game playing against them."
"I’d have to say for us, it’s FC Dallas. To be honest, and I’ve always said this, I think it’s more for the fans. Everything’s so competitive in this league that each and every single week is a big game for us."
"Every team. It's complicated in MLS. Our conference is difficult. I think the most difficult now is maybe LA Galaxy."
"Well obviously D.C. and New York just because they’re the closest from a distance standpoint. But I think our fans really, really hate Red Bull. … I know [Thierry] Henry used to always say he hated coming here because the amount of abuse Red Bull get when they come here is unbelievable."
"From my perspective as a player, I would say 'Whoever we're playing next.' However, I think the answer that the team and the club would probably give is either Salt Lake or Houston."
"It has to be Seattle. It’s a lay-up, that one. We’ve had good games with Salt Lake, they’re a pretty close rival too. … But the way that our fans treat the Seattle game, there’s no other alternative for us. It is what it is."
“I think we have quite a few rivals. … Colorado. … LA is kind of a rival of the teams here. … Portland, Seattle. Anybody you see in the playoffs or important games tends to become a rival.”
"RSL because of proximity and MLS Cups won by both teams."
"Definitely, 100 percent Portland. For sure … But now that Vancouver is top of the table, that's kind of added pressure against [another] one of your rivals."
“Toronto. Of course. No question.”
"I’d have to say Chicago is probably the biggest rival due to the location. I think in the history [of the club] Chicago has probably been our rival. At the same time, we’ve grown a pretty good rivalry with New England over the past few years."
"I think it’s Vancouver to be honest. That’s a rivalry that’s organically started based off the games we’ve played and how the fans get into it.”
"I think the way the New York one is, you can’ really compare it to any other rivalry. It’s crazy. Even when I played in the [other] one, it wasn’t nearly the same, it never had the same feeling as this one does. I think that goes back to the fans."
What is your favorite rivalry in MLS, outside of any that your team is a part of?
"I know that Portland and Seattle is a big rivalry. New York City FC and Red Bulls is a rivalry, but it is still new, so I would not say it’s the biggest. I will say Seattle-Portland."
"I think Portland-Seattle's always a hostile atmosphere, so maybe that one."
"Portland and Seattle, although LA vs. Kansas City is good."
"There’s an energy there… they’re two clubs really driven by their fans. Cascadia as a whole, but Seattle-Portland, mainly.”
"Seattle-Portland." [Repeat x3]
"I think the Portland-Seattle rivalry is pretty crazy. I know last year when I was in Portland for the All-Star Game, you think that it’s the All-Star Game, so people would be exempt from abuse. But I remember Clint [Dempsey] was still getting abused from the Portland fans. That was kind of crazy to see the amount of passion they have for their club and their city that it even extended to the All-Star Game. That’s a pretty crazy rivalry outside of ours."
"Portland vs. Seattle, because both fanbases are passionate and typically it's an entertaining match on the field as well."
"I enjoy watching Seattle-Portland. I think that's a pretty fun match to watch. … I love intense matches. They usually get some goals going and it's two West teams beating each other up."
"I’d say Seattle/Portland, because of the fan bases there. On some level we’re all fans, so when it means a lot to the fans I think the players respond accordingly."
"I would say LA-San Jose, just because those games seem to be crazy. Comebacks, a lot of goals, just good games to watch."
"Right now, I kind of like the Kansas City-Salt Lake rivalry. What they've got brewing has been generating a lot of talk so I've been following that one pretty close. The New York City-New York Red Bulls is also one that I've followed close this year. That one will continue to grow with them only being however many miles apart they are. But, yeah, the continued growth of the Kansas City-Salt Lake one would be my pick."
"I have really enjoyed the New York derby. I think that’s been fun. I think they hit the nail on the head, just in terms of their superstars. I know Red Bulls won all three games, but those were big games. It had a cool feel to it, the tifos of the two fans going back and forth, that was very cool. I think the more of that the better, so that’s definitely been my favorite this season."
“I’m not going to say any of the Northwest ones. I just can’t. I think Red Bulls-D.C is a good one.”
"Rocky Mountain Cup, Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake."