Editorial (August 29, 2018) – The last iteration of MLS Heineken Rivalry Week for the 2018 regular season took place this past weekend. While several of the marquee derbies were played this past week, MLS Rivalry Week hasn’t been perfect this year.
Fixing MLS Rivalry Week
The league tends to promote their big rivalry matches from the larger markets but downplay those of their smaller clubs, assuming those teams get an actual rival scheduled for MLS Rivalry Week.
There is almost always a Cascadia Cup match, usually Portland Timbers FC and Seattle Sounders FC, which makes Vancouver Whitecaps FC the odd man out. Rightfully so, the league has emphasized El Trafico, featuring the Los Angeles based teams LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC, but shuns the historic California Clasico between the Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes.
This past weekend, MLS scheduled Minnesota United FC against Sporting KC for the sake of Midwest tribalism.
Why not go all out? The league already scheduled games Wednesday through Sunday? If you’re going to have midweek games with some teams playing two games in a week, why not go all out? Here’s a schedule that would give every team a true derby and get fans excited for five straight days of MLS madness.
Atlantic Cup: D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls, 7 PM
Philadelphia Union vs. New York City FC, 8 PM
Chicago Fire vs. Minnesota United FC, 9 PM
California Clasico: San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy, 10 PM
Trillium Cup: Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC, 7 PM
Cascadia Cup: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 10 PM
Atlanta United FC vs. Orlando City SC, 7 PM
Texas Derby: FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo, 9 PM
New England Revolution vs. D.C. United, 2 PM
Sporting KC vs. Chicago Fire, 6 PM
El Trafico: LA Galaxy vs. Los Angeles FC, 9 PM
Rocky Mountain Cup: Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake, 9 PM
Hudson River Derby: New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC, 3 PM
401 Derby: Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact, 5 PM
Hell is Real: FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC, 7 PM
Cascadia Cup: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers FC, 9 PM
All times are Eastern Standard. This schedule was made for the 2019 regular season (hence Cincinnati being included) with the assumption that the Crew stay in Columbus (for simplicity).
This schedule would give every derby in the league with a well-known nickname and/or actual trophy associated with it. All three Cascadia and California teams get a true derby match. The only clubs that get the short end of the stick are newer clubs that haven’t developed natural rivals yet and clubs in crowded regions where there are more significant rivalries.
It would provide the networks with in-demand matchups every night of the week for national broadcasts as well.
It’s not perfect, but everyone gets a chance at a neighbor and/or opponent they have a history together. It makes a lot more sense than having Sporting play a team they’ve never lost to or not having a California Clasico.