When does MLS Rivalry Week begin and what is it?

As if the excitement of the All-Star Game was not enough, MLS Rivalry Week returns on Friday.

For newcomers to the league, this may seem like a foreign concept. But do not be afraid; 90min is here to tell you everything you need to know.

Rivalry Week offers one of the best entertainments of the regular season, and is a week-long series of games that pits MLS ‘biggest rivals against each other.

Whether it’s a geographical rivalry like the El Trafico clash between LA Galaxy and LAFC, or the historic match between DC United and the New York Red Bulls, these matches are before every playoff that all fans look forward to at the start of the season.

Because derby matches are difficult to create in MLS due to the large distances between teams, the league attaches great importance to these matches. Individual clubs go to great lengths to increase the atmosphere at these events and in turn the match day experience is much closer to those who have experience in Germany and England.

Rivalry Week 2021 MLS begins Friday, August 20 with the LA Galaxy hosting the San Jose Earthquakes. It concludes on August 29 with the weekend of some blockbuster bands, including El Trafico, the Hudson River Derby and a Texas derby between Austin FC and FC Dallas.

El Trafico has already produced lots of fireworks even though it only came to 2018. / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It may not have the history of Cali Clasico, but El Trafico has quickly become the most entertaining game in MLS.

Since Galaxy’s 4-3 victory in the first meeting between these two sides in March 2018, there have been 11 editions of this luminaire. LA Galaxy leads the series 5-3, with three more draws, but LAFC has won three of the last four.

In addition, less than two goals have never been scored in an individual match between LA Galaxy and LAFC, where both sides produced 3-2, 3-3, 5-3 and 6-2 points between June 2019 and July 2020 alone.

This year, we can look forward to Mexican icons Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Carlos Vela facing Los Angeles superiority.

The Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers are one of the most historic derbies in the MLS. / Abbie Parr / Getty Images

El Trafico may be the new kid on the block, but for many, the Cascadia Cup clash between the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers is the ultimate MLS rivalry.

Separated by the two-and-a-half-hour I-5 freeway, these two pages have history that are well-dated MLS and have met a total of 123 times over the years.

But in MLS games (including playoffs), the Sounders only lead the way with 14 wins to the Timbers 13. Seattle has been in three of the last four MLS Cup finals, winning 2016, while the Timbers lifted the title in 2015 and were second to Atlanta United 2018.

This is usually a much tougher deal than El Trafico, but Seattle and Portland have two of the most passionate fan bases in MLS and always create an incredible atmosphere.

RBNY and NYCFC have met 18 times so far. / Kevin R. Wexler / NorthJersey.com via

To outsiders, this may seem like the most fabricated rivalry in MLS. One club is owned by Red Bull GmbH, while the other is the North American part of City Football Group. In addition, it has become somewhat infected by the fact that the NYCFC has been forced to play a number of games at the Red Bull Arena due to the matches colliding at the Yankees Stadium.

But make no mistake, this luminaire means everything to the fans, who simply refuse to give ground to each other. The Red Bulls’ 7-0 victory over the NYCFC in May 2016 is just one of the examples of dizzying peaks and crushing declines that this derby can work. And it has hosted several MLS greats over the years, including Bradley Wright-Phillips, David Villa and Maxi Moralez.

This year’s Rivalry Week edition will pose a high-flying NYCFC side against a Red Bulls outfit struggling to make the playoffs, but there’s no such thing as a derby to start your season, right?

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