I've been wanting to write this piece for awhile, but with the Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders match this previous Saturday, it seemed like the perfect time.
Let's start with a fact: Rivalries are crucial to all sports.
Major League Baseball has the Yankees and the Red Sox, the NBA has the Celtics and the Lakers, college football has Michigan-Ohio State, and the list goes on and on. But in soccer, there is something special.
The derby (pronounced darby) is something that is unique to soccer, and is exhibited in leagues all around the world. Barcelona-Real Madrid, Manchester United-Manchester City, Celtic-Rangers, I could name them all day, but that's not the point I'm trying to make.
What I'm trying to get at here is; Are there any real derby's in the USL? And the answer is a challenge.
You may be wondering, "Why the USL? What about the MLS? There are plenty of clubs that have a hatred for each other in the top league."
Well a couple of reasons. First off, its the league I cover, so I know the more about it than a lot of other leagues, and also the USL has been around longer than the MLS, so they've had more time for the rivalries to develop.
Plus their are only two real rivalries in the MLS, the Rocky Mountain Cup between Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids, and the Cascadia Cup which involves the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The latter laid its ground in the NASL in the 70's and 80's, but developed in the USL in the late 90's and early 2000's. So its obvious that the USL can support rivalries, and that they aren't always friendly.
Right now the rivalries are a little more laid back, and are a lot more likely to be discussed between the sides over a couple of drinks in the parking lot before the match than in previous years. But inside the stadium and within the various forms of internet taunting we still see some bad blood between a couple of teams.
The Battery are involved in the Southern Derby, which currently also includes the Charlotte Eagles and Wilmington Hammerheads. Other teams that have participated in the past are; the Raleigh Express, Atlanta Silverbacks, and the Carolina Railhawks. This derby was completely fan-started and fan-based. Here's an article on No Quarter about it.
Most of the others are pretty obvious, but not really official. You have the North Carolina Derby between the Eagles and the Hammerheads, and a brand new one up in Pennsylvania that's contested between the Harrisburg City Islanders and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
Another rivalry/derby of note, is the most historic USL rivalry of all time. The Richmond Kickers and the Charleston Battery have played each other 42 times dating back to 1993. It couldn't be any closer, as both teams hold the same record (19-19-4) in this rivalry. They will face one more time this season to decide who will take the edge.
Luckily for the fans in Chucktown, we have a few matches to look forward to every year that can be considered "derby's" or "rivalries." They may not be what they have over in Europe, but its our own little slice of what the rest of the world gets to enjoy.
(Sorry about the formatting issues if there are any, Blogger seems to be having some technical difficulties.)
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