With the final match of the Rocky Mountain Cup this weekend, I was thinking about looking back at the history of the rivalry between the two teams and writing a blog post on it. But as I was thinking about it, something just seemed different this year. The anticipation for the match just wasn't that great. It is nothing like it had been in the past. I started to wonder just how intense the rivalry still was between the two teams.
No one can say that there wasn't an intense rivalry in the past. From the first win in franchise history, to the infamous yelling match between Pablo Mastroeni and Dave Checketts, to the multiple times that RSL knocked Colorado out of the playoffs on the last day of the year, the rivalry was one of the best in MLS. It was always fun to look forward to the last game of the year knowing that we would be playing the hated "Crapids".
But it has seems to me that all of that has started to change. Over the past few years the games just haven't meant as much to me. I am not sure what changed. Was it the fact that RSL had won the cup every year since 2007? Was it the fact that players like Connor Casey and now Mastroeni that I really disliked no longer play for Colorado? I don't know. I wasn't even sure if I was the only one that felt this way.
I thought I would find out what other people thought. I conducted an informal survey on Twitter and on the Big Soccer message boards. I asked the simple question "Who is RSL's biggest rival?" The answers I got somewhat surprised me.
I had almost 100 people respond to my question. Out of those, 35% said that RSL's biggest rival was the LA Galaxy. 23% said that they felt that Seattle was the biggest rival. Colorado came next at 21%. I do have to say that my favorite response were the few people that said either MLS or the refs were the biggest rival.
I was not alone in feeling this change. I can't imagine if I would have asked the same question four years ago that anyone would have said anything but Colorado. But times have changed.
My next thought was if Colorado felt the same way about us? I ventured to a Rapids message board and asked them the same question. Every person that responded said that RSL was the Rapid's biggest rivals. The rivalry is alive and kicking on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. Probably the fact that they have not won the Cup in so many years helps to fuel that fire.
If we feel that LA is our biggest rival, what did they think of us? I went to a Galaxy message board to find out. In asking them the same question, the vast majority of Galaxy fans said that San Jose was their biggest rival. Some mentioned RSL in passing but only after they professed their hatred of the Earthquakes.
I didn't even bother to ask Seattle. I think everyone knows that Portland is their biggest rival and next would probably be Vancouver. The hatred between the Cascadia Cup participants is pretty intense.
All of this research lead me to a question that I am not sure I can answer. Is a rivalry a rivalry when it is only one sided? Do you need both sides to truly hate each other for it to be considered a rivalry? And if Colorado was to win the Rocky Mountain Cup this weekend would those numbers above change? I would love to hear what you think.