Rivalries are undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable parts of sports. Soccer produces plenty of good ones, such as AC Milan-Inter, Manchester United-Manchester City, and Arsenal-Tottenham. There are iconic matchups in American soccer too, like Seattle-Portland and New York Red Bulls-NYCFC. Minnesota’s sports teams have their bitter rivals as well. There’s no love lost between Vikings and Packers fans, and the almost annual playoff series between the Wild and Chicago Blackhawks is always contentious. Soccer has great rivalries, and so does Minnesota, so where does Minnesota United fit into all of this?
There are three clubs that I can see as Minnesota’s potential rivals. One is because of near-constant comparison, while the other two are because of proximity. Those three are fellow expansion-ers Atlanta United, the Chicago Fire, and Sporting Kansas City.
Personally, I really dislike Atlanta United. Why, you ask? It’s probably mostly jealousy (or entirely jealousy). After all, they beat us 6-1 in the snow at home. Minnesota has moved out of that embarrassing phase, but seeing Atlanta’s offense dazzle their opposition week after week still annoys me. I took immense pleasure in watching DC United beat them 3-1 at home this past weekend. For the foreseeable future, Minnesota and Atlanta will be constantly compared, and for now Atlanta have a sizable lead.
The Chicago Fire are technically the closest team to Minnesota (by about 20 miles), but that doesn’t mean much to me. They’re in the Eastern Conference, while we’re in the Western. That means only one matchup per year, so how heated could this rivalry really get? Major League Soccer has the lone match between us and them scheduled for a so-called Rivalry Week, but this rivalry one feels a little forced.
Then we get to Sporting Kansas City, and things get a little juicier. SKC is our closest Western Conference foe. Many fans will remember last year’s US Open Cup match between the Loons and Sporting--the one that got a little testy. Kansas City is off to a hot start this season, already in 2nd place. To me, this pairing has a lot of potential to become a heated affair.
Lucky for us, the barbeque masters are coming to town this weekend. The match will be televised nationally. This is a big game, not just for the players, but for us fans. This is the best chance to establish Minnesota United as a legitimate club. To all fans who are attending the game: Be loud and show the country that this is a true rivalry.
Based off data from a previous survey, a makority considered Sporting Kansas City MNUFC’s rival, as 62.4% of readers considered them to be our most-hated opponents. Atlanta received 12% of votes, while Chicago got 16%.