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Rivalry weekend in Major League Soccer

Nat Borchers

Real Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers (6) kisses a fan in the stands following the team’s 0-0 tie with the Colorado Rapids during an MLS soccer game in Commerce City, Colo., Friday, Oct. 14, 2011. The team’s tied 0-0 and Real Salt Lake kept the Rocky Mountain Cup. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)


In early MLS days, some of the “rivalries” seemed a little ginned up. They were a little more marketing sizzle, a little less truly acrimonious steak.

But these things do find their own level, and most of the rivalries in MLS now rise above mere salesmanship. Even the new ones.

This is the first “rivalry weekend,” such that it is. The schedule shows Real Salt Lake meeting Colorado, Toronto’s first-ever MLS dust-up with expansion Montreal and Seattle meeting D.C. United.

The first two are all about geography, of course. The two sides out in the Western wilderness, Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids, didn’t need long to spin the wheel of rancor. Eric Gorski from the Denver Post has some of the history.

A rivalry between Montreal and Toronto? That’s hockey, right?

Yes, but it’s apparently so big in hockey that it’s spilling over in some kind of sporty karmic convergence, now folding soccer in the belligerent mix. So says a man who has worn both uniforms.

So if the mayhem ahead in those two is all about proximity and maps, how in the name of Rand McNally did D.C. United and Seattle quietly become rivals?

That one has its roots in the 2009 U.S. Open Cup contest. Both organizations had hoped to host the final, and club presidents Kevin Payne (D.C. United) and Adrian Hanauer (Seattle) went to word war about it all. United greased the wheels with the We Win Trophies Tour and, well, the rest is history, as they say.

Seven matches are ahead for Saturday. L.A. and Sporting Kansas City highlight the April 7 slate … but those rivalry matches deserve monitoring, too.