Most heated rivalries in Major League Soccer

Rivalries get fans up for Major League Soccer games like no other when it comes to defending your team’s pride, reputation and glory against a hated opponent.

Rivalries normally come organically from geographical location. New York vs. Boston, New York vs. Philadelphia are just a couple of examples of state rivalries that expand outside of any sports league, but rivalries within one state are the ones that really get MLS fans excited. The battle for the city or state is one fans mark on their calendars each year. Some of the most popular rivalries have risen to center stage in recent history.

Here’s a look at the most heated rivalries in Major League Soccer.

Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders FCPortland Timbers v Seattle Sounders FC

Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders FC / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Porland vs. Seattle is a rivalry that’s existed for nearly 50 years, before MLS’ inception. The rivalry first moved to the top division in United States soccer in 2011. Many would argue it’s the purest and truest derbies in American men’s soccer.

There have been 44 matches played in MLS between the two with Portland getting the better of Seattle historically (19-17-9). Portland’s had even better success in MLS playoffs with a 3-1 record.

The rivalry will be renewed this year with the two teams facing off during Rivalry Week.

Los Angeles FC v Los Angeles GalaxyLos Angeles FC v Los Angeles Galaxy

Los Angeles FC v Los Angeles Galaxy / Victor Decolongon/GettyImages

Unfortunately we don’t get El Tráfico this year during MLS Rivalry Week, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the most heated rivalries in the league. LA Galaxy long laid claim to the Greater Los Angeles Area until LAFC debuted in 2018.

LAFC even built BMO Stadium (formerly Banc of California Stadium) around 13 miles away from the StubHub Center. The first meeting between the two helped establish El Tráfico on center stage.

LAFC in its third-ever regular season game traveled to face LA Galaxy. The Black and Gold led 3-0 after 60 minutes, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic had other plans. The legendary striker scored two goals off the bench in a Hollywood ending for Galaxy winning 4-3. Zlatan later even added some fuel to the fire in an interview with ESPN when he said he was the best player in MLS compared to Carlos Vela who was LAFC’s big signing.

LA Galaxy has gotten the better of LAFC historically with nine wins to eight and five draws. Though, LAFC hold the largest margin of victory defeating LA Galaxy 6-2 in the MLS is Back Tournament in 2020.

The top scorer in El Tráfico history is Vela with nine goals.

Yaw YeboahYaw Yeboah

Columbus Crew v FC Cincinnati: Eastern Conference Final – 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs / Jeff Dean/GettyImages

These two Ohio teams have probably the best name for their rivalry: the Hell is Real Derby. Another rivalry that only recently debuted in MLS (2019), FC Cincinnati first faced Columbus Crew in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup when it was a part of the United Soccer League.

Cincinnati later joined MLS in 2019 and have faced Columbus 12 teams in the league and once in the playoffs.

Columbus dominates the series between the two with seven wins and four draws. Cincinnati has only won two other matches since the derby’s inaugural match. The sweetest victory for Columbus came last year in the MLS Cup Playoffs defeating its rival 3-2 in extra time thanks to a 115th-minute goal from Christian Ramirez.

This year’s Rivalry Week features the first meeting between the two since the playoffs.

Burnley relegated from Premier League

Burnley have been relegated from the Premier League following their 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

Vincent Kompany’s side needed a win to have any hope of catching Nottingham Forest and escaping the drop zone but, despite taking an early lead, failed to secure the three points needed to keep their survival hopes alive.

Burnley become the second team to be relegated from this season’s Premier League after Sheffield United’s return to the Championship was confirmed in April.

For Burnley, it’s an immediate return to the second tier after a tough season which saw them part ways with a number of the players who helped seal their promotion in the first place.

Kompany remained at the helm but found himself under immediate pressure after a 3-0 defeat to reigning champions Manchester City on the opening day of the season. Burnley would beat Luton Town shortly after, but a run of ten defeats and a draw in their next 11 games firmly established the Clarets as relegation candidates.

Vincent KompanyVincent Kompany

Kompany failed to keep Burnley in the Premier League / Gareth Copley/GettyImages

Their return to the Championship was eventually confirmed in the penultimate gameweek, with Burnley winning just five of their 37 games at the time of their relegation.

One final relegation spot remains, with Luton and Forest battling to avoid becoming the third and final side to drop down.

Luton’s fate could be sealed as early as Saturday afternoon. Their defeat to West Ham United leaves them three points behind Forest, who could seal their survival with a draw against Chelsea later in the day.

Should Forest lose to Chelsea, the relegation race will roll over to the final day of the season. Luton must beat Fulham to have any hope of surviving, while Forest would need just a point from their meeting with Burnley if they do not get the job done on Saturday.

That being said, Forest boast a significantly greater goal difference compared to Luton and are heavy favourites to avoid the drop to the Championship as a result.


Luka Modric’s agent reveals when Real Madrid contract decision will be made

The agent of Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric expects a decision on the veteran’s future to be made in the coming days.

Modric is approaching the end of his Madrid contract and, earlier this season, he was widely expected to walk away on a free transfer after losing his regular spot in Carlo Ancelotti’s starting lineup.

The 38-year-old has, however, seen his minutes increased in recent weeks, opening the door to a potential extension with a series of impressive performances.

Reports in Spain suggested on Saturday that Modric had rejected the chance to sign an extension with Madrid, but his agent has now revealed the truth behind his talks with the La Liga champions.

“So far there is nothing clear about Modric’s future with Real Madrid,” he told Koora. “Next week, things will be clearer for us.

“Madrid is Modric’s homeland, and together we will decide what is best.”

Luka ModricLuka Modric

The door remains open to Modric / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

Ancelotti is said to be keen to keep both Modric and fellow veteran Toni Kroos, whose deal will also expire at the end of the season.

Club president Florentino Perez is due to meet with the pair for talks in the coming days as Madrid seek to finalise their plans for the summer transfer window.

Endrick will finalise his move from Palmeiras and should be joined in attack by Kylian Mbappe, who stopped short of confirming his switch to Madrid when he finally went public with his decision to leave Paris Saint-Germain on Friday.

Exits for Kroos and Modric could leave Madrid short in midfield, although a change in formation to facilitate Mbappe’s introduction to the team may reduce the need for so many midfielders in the squad.


Man Utd predicted lineup vs Arsenal – Premier League

The clock is ticking on Erik ten Hag’s reign, but the Manchester United boss still has time to all but end Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes.

There’s little to suggest United can earn a result against the imperious Gunners this weekend, but there’s no doubt the Red Devils squad will be keen to make amends for their pitiful display at Crystal Palace on Monday night.

Their 4-0 defeat was just the latest humiliation suffered under Ten Hag’s watch.

Things could get ugly for the hosts this weekend given Arsenal’s free-scoring nature, but, on a more positive note, Ten Hag should welcome back several key players to his matchday squad.

Jonny Evans, Diogo DalotJonny Evans, Diogo Dalot

Man Utd endured another miserable outing away at Palace on Monday night / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

GK: Andre Onana – There have been very few constants in the United team this season, but summer arrival Onana has been one of them.

RB: Diogo Dalot – The Portuguese full-back can play on both sides, with Ten Hag likely to make a concerted effort to slow down Bukayo Saka on the opposite flank.

CB: Scott McTominay – After Casemiro’s disasterclass showing at Palace, surely the Brazilian can’t be in the firing line against Arsenal? Scott McTominay, not even 100% fit, is hardly the ideal solution but there’s genuinely few other options.

CB: Jonny Evans – The veteran defender will be called upon once again given United’s long list of defensive absentees. Evans has only just returned from a spell out.

LB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Wan-Bissaka has offered some versatility this term, and he’ll likely be deployed to shut down Saka this weekend.

CM: Casemiro – Things have gotten ugly for Casemiro, who Jamie Carragher said is “finished” at the highest level. He may be needed switched back into midfield here though, ahead of the equally ineffective Christian Eriksen.

CM: Kobbie Mainoo – Mainoo-mania has quietened down somewhat since his Federico Macheda-esque strike against Liverpool in April.

RM: Alejandro Garnacho – Like Mainoo, Garnacho has endured a quiet few weeks amid a hugely promising campaign. Can he produce a big performance against the Gunners on Sunday?

AM: Bruno Fernandes – After missing the first game of his club career through injury last time out, Fernandes should return to captain United at Old Trafford. There are some doubts over his status, though.

LM: Marcus Rashford – Rashford is back in training and in contention for Arsenal’s visit. The winger hasn’t been at the races this term, but he so often scores against the Gunners.

ST: Rasmus Hojlund – The Danish striker has gone cold since returning from injury, but that purple patch at the start of the calendar year showed that he’s worth persevering with.


Marc Skinner hoping to turn past heartache into Man Utd advantage in Women’s FA Cup final

Manchester United are hoping to use the pain of losing last season’s Women’s FA Cup final as fuel in their quest for silverware as they head back to Wembley for the 2024 final this weekend.

Marc Skinner’s side were Wembley debutants this time last year but were left wondering ‘what if’ after Leah Galton’s early goal was disallowed and other chances went begging. Chelsea eventually got the better of them when Pernille Harder, once the most expensive female player in the world, changed the game from the bench and went on to set up the only goal of the final for Sam Kerr.

It was a devastating moment for Skinner, his players and staff as they watched, arm-in-arm on the turf, Chelsea climb the steps to receive their winners’ medals and lift the trophy.

“It has to feed into it,” Skinner said ahead of United’s second chance, this time against Tottenham Hotspur, as he looks back on what happened in 2023.

“When that hurt [of losing] hits, and you can feel and recall it, it can be an extra motivating factor. That’s how you have to use it. We have to remember, bring back those feelings, and give more and give more and give more. Nobody is guaranteed to win this final, but what we have to do is give everything to make sure the performance is worthy of it. If we do that and use those experiences and the feeling of it to drive us forward, hopefully that will give us a little edge.”

For Skinner, whose father suffered heart attack the day before last season’s final, the feeling of defeat was all too familiar. He had previously taken former club Birmingham City to Wembley in 2017 final against Manchester City, losing heavily in front of a then record crowd.

Ahead of last season’s final, Skinner admitted there was naivety in Birmingham’s preparation – he was less than six months into his first senior management role at the time. But it was also extremely painful and that still hasn’t left him in the seven years that have now since passed.

Marc SkinnerMarc Skinner

Man Utd had to watch Chelsea lift the FA Cup last season / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

“Naturally, nobody wants to feel those experiences on a national stage,” the United boss reflected as he heads back to Wembley for what he hopes will be his third time lucky.

“It’s part of competitive sport. I think you grow up and mature. It never gets easier, but it’s part and parcel of the game so you learn the pressures of it. There was an Eddie Howe interview with Gary Neville and they talk about how managers have to be bulletproof.

“We’re also human. I think it would be unnatural for me not to feel and be devastated by a loss, but I’ve always known that losses make you stronger and the strength you need to succeed in the long-term is understanding dealing with failure.

“That first final [with Birmingham], I never watched the game back because it hurt. But you learn to deal with your emotions when you feel that and that’s important because I’m human. It builds you and it’s built resilience in me that I need for my job, the career that I’ve chosen.

“What you learn is when you feel those moments and the disappointment, you can still take action and still think. I’m asking experienced players to think in moments and so do I – and I think that’s where you grow in these games.”