The Philadelphia Union and DC United face off this Friday night. In a week MLS is touting as Rivalry Week, is DC United really the Union’s rival?
The league features LA Galaxy VS LAFC and Seattle VS Portland this week. No doubt big-time rivalries. However, don’t the Union have bigger rivals than DC United?
Why Dc is The Official Rival
For starters, what the league pushes as a rival and what the fans and players do can be totally different.
The league will push what will sell. At the same time, the fans and players on the team will show up for the actual rival.
In the league’s eyes, DC is the easiest sell for the Union as a rival. The history is there, and not the soccer history. The first capital VS the current capital is what the league is promoting for this game.
It’s not like DC cant be a Rival of the Union. The Eagles rival the Commanders and the Phillies rival the Nationals. It is just that Union-DC matchups just don’t bring the built-up tension that other opponents bring.
Who’s the Real Rival?
There are 2 teams that could be considered the main rival of the Union. Coincidentally, they both reign from New York (Technically).
For starters the New York Red Bulls, even though they play in New Jersey. How many close and high-stakes matchups of the two had in just the last few years? Iconic moments and games between the two.
Jacob Glesnes’ 123rd-minute winner and the Union’s first playoff win against the Red Bulls. Not to mention, the team sells the matchup as the main rivalry. Burning a bull in the parking lot before the game.
The second team has come on the radar as a rival more recently. That is NYCFC. In the short history of the 2 clubs, tension has never lacked when the two meet. Just look at the most recent game between the two. A playoff-like atmosphere, with multiple confrontations and a Union trainer being red-carded. Now that is a rivalry.
The disdain between the two skyrocketed when NYCFC hoisted the Eastern Conference Trophy as Subaru Park. Beating a COVID-stricken Union side down 11 players. The matchup always has tension and that is integral to a rivalry.
Does it Really Matter?
At the end of the day, no it doesn’t matter. It is just another game on the calendar. A rivalry is a selling point.
The argument is that there are 2 better selling points as rivals for the Union. DC just doesn’t bring the pent-up tension, animosity, and excitement as either of the New York teams do right now.
Things could always change, but MLS selling DC-Union as a bitter rivalry is just incorrect.
Featured Image: Wes Shepherd/PHLSportsNation