This fierce rivalry goes back to the old NASL of the 1970s, and has survived incarnations in lower leagues like the USL and WSA. The inclusion of the Timbers franchise into MLS in 2011 sent the rivalry into the stratosphere, and the match-up gets the nod over the others on this list based on the size and intensity of the two fan bases. These two teams — along with fellow Cascadia Cup competitor Vancouver — have become the blueprint for building the sport in North America.
The “California Clasico” probably has the richest history of all the MLS rivalries, having faced off in some the leagues legendary showdowns. They played each other in the 2001 MLS Cup with the Earthquake’s Dwayne De Rosario scoring an overtime goal to win the title 2-1. In 2003, the two teams met in a playoff, with the Galaxy taking a four goal aggregate lead deep into the second match only to see the Earthquakes score five unanswered goals to pull of the miracle. The Galaxy have also had their share of success against the Quakes, and hold the overall edge.
MLS rivalries tend to be regionally based — as opposed to the inter-city rivalries that dominate European and South American soccer — and this is one of the better ones. The results have been a bit-one sided lately, with Real Sal;t Lake taking the “Rocky Mountain Cup” for six consecutive years, but the geographic isolation give this derby a particular edge
While it seems natural that Dallas’ biggest rivalry should be against it’s cross-state rivals Houston, that matchup has never quite caught on. The rivalry with the Chicago Fire has a longer history and seems to resonate more with the fans. The two teams compete each year for the Brimstone Cup, and the hatred has been stoked by incidents such as when Chicag’’s Dema Kovalenko shattered defender Brandon Pollard’s leg in a 1999 playoff match.
The NY-Washington rivalry has had its moments, but this is our dream rivalry for the future. If the whimsical effort to re-start the legendary Cosmos franchise ever gets off the ground, we anticipate this to become the bitterest MLS rivalry. Hopefully the league can overcome the tendency in American team owners to jealously guard their “territorial rights” and start adding franchises in closer proximity to each other. Besides, the league needs a team that actually plays in New York City.