10 Biggest MLS Rivalries of All Time | 2024 Edition


The cornerstone of Major League Soccer’s meteoric rise to global prominence lies in its vibrant tapestry of the “Biggest MLS Rivalries.” These epic clashes, steeped in tradition and fervor, serve as the heartbeat of the football league, captivating audiences and elevating the sport to new heights. From the storied showdowns between historic clubs to the fierce battles for regional supremacy, these rivalries embody the essence of competition and passion that define MLS. With each match, fans eagerly anticipate the intensity and drama that only the biggest MLS rivalries can deliver, underscoring their pivotal role in shaping the league’s identity and fostering its remarkable growth on the world stage.

Suggested Read: The All-Time Greatest Headers of a Football in History!

Biggest MLS Rivalries

Expanding from 12 teams in 2005 to an impressive 28 teams by 2024, Major League Soccer has witnessed a remarkable evolution, with each new addition solidifying the league’s foundation. As the MLS landscape continues to thrive, the influx of teams has ignited a surge of local rivalries, propelling the league’s ascent to global prominence. Delving into the rich tapestry of MLS rivalries, we uncover the top 10 matchups that epitomize the essence of competition and passion within the league.

1. Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers

In Major League Soccer, the showdown between the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers stands out as the ultimate rivalry. Known as the Battle of Cascadia, it boasts an electrifying game day atmosphere comparable to renowned soccer rivalries and European derbies.

This intense rivalry traces its roots back to the geographical rivalry between Seattle and Portland, which has seamlessly transitioned into the world of sports. Dating back to their clashes in the NASL era of 1975, these two teams have nurtured a fierce soccer rivalry. The animosity between their fan bases adds an extra layer of intensity to each match, making away games particularly daunting for visiting teams.

2. LA Galaxy vs. LAFC

The rivalry between Los Angeles’ two soccer clubs, LA Galaxy and LAFC, is one of the most heated matchups in the league, reminiscent of the intensity seen in the Hudson River derby. Dubbed “El Trafico” in reference to LA’s notorious traffic, these teams are separated by just a 12-mile stretch of freeway, yet their fans harbor deep-seated animosity towards one another.

Matches between the two LA clubs are renowned for their drama, high-scoring action, and nail-biting finishes. The inaugural El Trafico clash in 2018 exemplified this intensity, as LAFC squandered a 3-0 lead, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the greatest MLS players of all time, stunning the crowd with a remarkable goal and a last-minute winner to secure a 4-3 victory for the Galaxy.

3. DC United vs. New York Red Bulls

The rivalry between DC United and the New York Red Bulls is fueled by the longstanding competition between Washington and New York in various sports leagues, including the NFL and NHL. Since its inception in 2002, the Atlantic Cup fixture has emerged as a highlight on the Major League Soccer calendar, drawing attention from fans across the league. With both clubs boasting sizable fan bases and rich histories, the intensity of the rivalry reached new heights in 2006 when DC United’s Alecko Eskandarian added an extra layer of animosity by provocatively celebrating a goal with a Red Bull energy drink.

This fierce rivalry embodies the competitive spirit of MLS, showcasing the passion and fervor that fans bring to the sport. From memorable matches to provocative gestures, the clashes between DC United and the New York Red Bulls epitomize the excitement and drama that define the league’s most iconic matchups.

4. LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes

The rivalry between the LA Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes takes center stage in the California Clásico, a showdown steeped in history and regional pride as it pits North against South California. Regarded as one of the most storied rivalries in the league, it brims with intensity and emotion, igniting passionate exchanges between fans through elaborate tifos and spirited chants, often requiring security to maintain order during matches.

Demonstrating the magnitude of this fixture, San Jose’s home games are relocated to the expansive Stanford Stadium, boasting a capacity of over 50,000, as their usual home ground, PayPal Park, falls short with its 18,000-seat capacity. This move underscores the immense popularity and significance of the California Clásico within the MLS landscape.

5. FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew

Upon FC Cincinnati’s entry into the MLS in 2019, it ignited a fierce rivalry with the Columbus Crew, culminating in what has become known as the Hell is Real Derby or the Ohio Derby. Despite being one of the newest rivalries in the league, it has quickly emerged as one of the most compelling matchups.

The derby derives its name from an Interstate 71 sign just south of Columbus, which bears the ominous phrase “Hell is Real.” While originally intended to evoke religious contemplation, it has instead become synonymous with the burgeoning rivalry between these Ohio-based clubs. This unique origin story adds an intriguing layer to the growing rivalry, solidifying its status as one of the most captivating spectacles in MLS.

6. Toronto FC vs. CF Montreal

In the MLS, the clash between Toronto FC and CF Montreal stands as a premier rivalry, characterized by its magnitude and fervor. Dubbed the Canadian Classique, Two Solitudes Derby, or the 410 Derby, this matchup embodies the spirited competition between Canada’s largest cities. Rooted in the cultural disparities between historically English-Protestant Toronto and French-Catholic Montreal, this rivalry has deep-seated foundations, with fans from both sides displaying a visceral disdain for one another.

The cultural nuances between the two cities have laid the groundwork for one of the most intense rivalries in MLS history. From the passionate chants to the heated exchanges on the pitch, the Canadian Classique captivates audiences and exemplifies the essence of competitive sportsmanship within the league.

7. Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids

In the realm of Major League Soccer, the clash between Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids stands out as one of the most prominent derbies, showcasing the rivalry between two Mountain West powerhouses. Born out of their geographical proximity, this matchup has evolved into the Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry, fueled by Real Salt Lake’s historical dominance over Colorado.

Real Salt Lake supporters have gained notoriety for their passionate and sometimes rowdy behavior, further intensifying the rivalry. The animosity between the two clubs reached a boiling point in a 2006 encounter where the Colorado Rapids secured a victory over Real Salt Lake. This game was marked by heated exchanges on and off the field, with Salt Lake fans hurling debris onto the pitch and taunting Colorado players relentlessly. In a controversial move, Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni further fueled tensions by celebrating in front of the opposition fans, exacerbating an already heated atmosphere.

8. FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo

The Texas Derby ignites the rivalry between two of America’s most prominent cities as FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo go head-to-head in what is widely regarded as one of the top MLS rivalries. This intense competition traces its roots back to 2006, coinciding with FC Dallas’s induction into the league.

With a history of closely contested matches, the Texas Derby showcases the competitive spirit and skill of both teams. What sets this rivalry apart is the coveted prize awaiting the victor: the El Capitán, a replica 18th-century mountain howitzer cannon. This unique trophy not only symbolizes triumph on the field but also embodies the rich heritage and pride of Texas soccer, making each Texas Derby clash a thrilling spectacle for fans and players alike.

9. New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC

The Hudson River Derby epitomizes the fierce competition between two of America’s most iconic clubs, named after the river that flows through New York City. Initially, the rivalry lacked intensity as the New York Red Bulls dominated proceedings in the early stages.

Fueling the rivalry further, social media platforms have become battlegrounds for fans of both clubs, exchanging insults and banter. Tensions have escalated to the point where the Red Bulls have reduced ticket allocations for NYCFC supporters due to past instances of fan misconduct. However, there is a consensus among supporters that more high-stakes encounters between the two clubs are needed to elevate the rivalry to even greater heights.

10. FC Dallas vs. Chicago Fire

The Brimstone Cup, although not as prominent as it once was, remains one of the enduring MLS rivalries, steeped in history and tradition. Originating in 2001, it stands as the league’s first fan-driven trophy, conceived by the passionate supporter groups of Chicago’s Section 8 and Dallas’ Inferno.

During the inception of the rivalry, both clubs enjoyed success, with Dallas, then known as the Burn, feeling a sense of dissatisfaction as Chicago’s name somewhat mirrored their own. Over the years, while the intensity of the Dallas-Chicago rivalry has waned slightly, it has continued to hold significance for both sets of supporters, serving as a reminder of the spirited matchups and the fervent fan engagement that defined its early years. Despite the emergence of larger rivalries involving other MLS franchises, the Brimstone Cup retains a special place in the hearts of fans from both Dallas and Chicago.

Read More: Most Successful English Clubs in Football


In the wide world of football, Major League Soccer’s Biggest MLS Rivalries are like big symbols of the league’s strong spirit and passionate fans. These rivalries show how teams compete fiercely and how fans get really excited. As MLS keeps growing, these big games stay important because they make the league famous around the world. Fans love watching these games because they’re so intense and exciting, and they’ll keep being a big part of MLS for a long time.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top