It’s Rlvalry Week at SB Nation, where we’re examining the best rivalries for our respective teams. I’m having some trouble with this, and I’m hoping you can help.
Who is the Chicago Fire’s rival?
Is it Columbus Crew? It may have been at one time, but with the addition of FC Cincinnati, Hell is Real has taken over for the Crew.
Is it FC Dallas? MLS tried to make this happen with the Brimstone Cup, but I’m not sure the fans really feel this one. Dallas probably hates Houston more, anyway.
Is it New England? Fifteen years ago when the two teams were meeting in the playoffs all the time, there was something there. Same with D.C. United in the early days. I really don’t think either one of these are a real rivalry now. It’s sort of like the old Blackhawks-Canucks rivalry. It burned hot for a bit, but now it’s dead.
Is it Minnesota United? Not yet, but there’s some potential here. Bears-Vikings is a solid secondary rivalry to Bears-Packers, and White Sox-Twins has always been fun, too.
The answer, most likely, is a team that has yet to enter the league—St. Louis.
For two teams to have a true rivalry, two key factors need to be present. The first is mutual hate. I went to the University of Illinois, and Champaign-Urbana townies like to think Michigan is the Illini’s rival. Michigan hates Ohio State, and Notre Dame, and Michigan State. I don’t think they’ve given much thought to Illinois in decades. Thinking Michigan is your rival makes you look lame.
The second is history. In rare cases, a lack of history on the field can be replaced with history between the cities. This is where St. Louis will instantly become the Fire’s biggest rival.
Don’t believe me? What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of St. Louis? Is it the desolate downtown where you and some friends thought you would try to “find a bar,” only to discover there’s absolutely nothing to do? Maybe it’s the time you walked into a pizza restaurant (which, it turns out, is actually ketchup and an odd cheese on a cracker), and the only two people there were both crying? Or, maybe it’s the guy in front of you at Busch Stadium, swastika tattoo poking out of his shirt collar, telling you about how Chicago fans are too stupid to cheer for a sacrifice fly?
Chicago already shares two things with St. Louis—hate and proximity. Plus, that “baseball’s best fans” stuff will translate perfectly into soccer, when they start talking about the “storied history of St. Louis soccer.” (To be fair, St. Louis does actually have a rich history with the sport—but let’s not tell them we know that.)
Do you think adidas will have the team playing in jorts?
Road trips in 2022 will be fun, until it’s time to find something to do after the match.
So, which team do you think is the Fire’s biggest rival? How much do you already hate the St. Louis team, before they’ve even played a match? Let us know in the comments.