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Clash of the Titans: MLS’s Top 5 Rivalries

Best Soccer Jersey MLS Rivals Header

Yes, it’s a small world. The beautiful game of soccer may become ugly when the world turns local. Some of the strongest rivalries in sports can result from this. Rivalry Week in Major League Soccer is now underway. This yearly custom will now last four days, beginning on May 13 and feature some of the league’s most intense contests.

Let’s open the history books and look at the Top 5 rivalries in the Major League Soccer (MLS) with a reference to geography


Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders

Best Soccer Jersey Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers

Greetings from Cascadia. May there be no friendly games of soccer.



One of North America’s most picturesque regions is the Pacific Northwest. However, when the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders face off, the quiet, contemplative setting gives way to boisterous competitiveness. The Seattle-Portland rivalry provides some of the best competition in MLS, going back several generations – about 50 years, starting in the middle of the 1970s.

The first encounter between these two storied clubs occurred in May 1975, during the NASL era. Take it from someone who had the good fortune to watch one of these teams play each other in 2018 at Providence Park: the rivalry, pageantry, and animosity between the two fanbases is legendary. Every encounter between the two parties is distinct and represents a new chapter in a gripping story. The Timbers Army saves its best work for the Sounders for a reason (hence).

The Timbers have had the best record in the I-5 rivalry during the MLS era, going 19-17-7. This includes wins in the 2013 and 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs head-to-head. However, Seattle has the advantage in overall record (56-46-15) and more MLS Cups (2-1).


LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC

Best Soccer Jersey Los Angeles FC and LA Galaxy

Although there is less than a half marathon between the stadiums, these two teams and their fan bases are poles apart. El Tráfico has developed into a competitive MLS S-tier team.

Sharing a city probably would have sparked some healthy competition. To be honest, however, things really picked up speed when Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his MLS debut. Carlos Vela scored twice to give LAFC a 3-0 lead in the second half of the first MLS encounter between these two teams. But when Zlatan came on in the second half, something magical happened.

Zlatan scored two goals, one of which was the winning score. The rivalry quickly grew after that.

A turf fight between an established team and a newcomer is the classic plot of the Los Angeles Derby. The Galaxy has won five MLS Cups, making them possibly the most illustrious team in the league. As a result, the team frequently fields a number of well-known foreign athletes, like Zlatan, David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Ashley Cole, and Steven Gerrard, among others. While everything is going on, LAFC is the up-and-comer, supported by a group of famous co-owners, including Magic Johnson, Will Ferrell, and Mia Hamm.

LAFC desires what the Galaxy have: numerous titles. In 2022, the black-and-gold won their first MLS Cup. But the Galaxy is unwilling to relinquish the throne.


New York Red Bulls and New York City FC

The MLS subway series is this. It is simple to understand how a dispute may stoke given that the two Hudson River Derby businesses are connected by the PATH rail, which travels between the Bronx, Manhattan, and New Jersey. The proximity of these two clubs is built in to it.

Best Soccer Jersey New York City FC and New York Red Bulls

The Red Bulls initially controlled this series, including a 7-0 victory at Yankee Stadium in 2016 that came to be known as “The Red Wedding.” The upstarts have closed the gap despite transitioning from an expansion squad to an established club, proving that NYCFC has more tenacity than the final season of Game of Thrones. Through 21 MLS games, the Red Bulls have an advantage in the series (10 wins to 8 wins for NYCFC, 3 draws). In those contests, the Red Bulls have an additional +8 goal differential.


CF Toronto FC and Montreal

Although it frequently revolves on hockey rinks, these two big North American cities have a long-standing sporting rivalry. However, there is no connection between this with ice patches, the Toronto Maple Leafs, or the Montreal Canadiens. These two Canadian cities have been at odds over football since the NASL era.

Best Soccer Jersey CF Montreal and Toronto FC

The 401 Derby is another name for the Canadian Classic, which takes place on the Ontario Highway 401 that links the two historic cities.

CF Montreal and Toronto FC have faced off 30 times in Major League Soccer competition, with Toronto FC holding a slight advantage with 13 victories to Montreal’s 12 and five ties. The two teams have engaged in 58 total matches, including one friendly, with Toronto having a slight advantage (27 triumphs). This shared past includes a titanic back-and-forth in the Eastern Conference Final of 2016, which the Reds ultimately won behind Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. With 13 goals, Altidore, a former USMNT striker who played for six seasons with Toronto FC, holds the record for most goals scored in a North American matchup.


FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew

Best Soccer Jersey Columbus Crew and FC Cincinnati

One of the more recent rivalries in MLS is the fight for Ohio, popularly known as the Hell is Real Derby. What the game’s lengthy history lacks, it makes up for with fervent supporters in a sports-crazed state.

Cincinnati won the first matchup between these two teams in US Open Cup competition in 2017 with a score of 1-0. With Cincinnati beginning MLS play in 2019, Columbus has largely dominated the series at that time. The Crew’s current series record is 5-2-4. Since the latter part of the 2020 campaign, FC Cincinnati hasn’t defeated Columbus.