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FCD 101: Who are FC Dallas’ biggest rivals?

Rivals are a key part of Major League Soccer.

In the next part of our FCD: 101 series, we are going to be looking at FC Dallas’ rivals. Now, with any good story, you need to understand who the protagonist and antagonist are. How can someone fully enjoy Toy Story without knowing Sid (The kid who blows up toys)? The same holds true for the Mighty Ducks 2 and Wolf Stansson (yes, the Icelandic coach who slashed Gordon Bombay right before he was about to score). To fully understand a sports team, you need to know which teams don’t like each other, and the history that goes along with it.

For FC Dallas, there are a couple different degrees of rivals. Over the years, some of these of rivalries have faded while others have grown stronger; others have sprung out out of nowhere. Keep in mind, as with everything in the 101 Series, our goal is to give you a primer here. If you want more information, ask in the comments sections below and we can point you in the right direction.

Primary Rivals

Houston Dynamo - The Texas Derby

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Derby is the proper term for the rivalry between FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo. The rivalry has been in existence since 2006, the first year Houston became a franchise. The winner of each year’s rivalry is awarded with El Capitán, an 18th century cannon. As for rivalry trophies go, I can’t imagine there are many more awesome than a Civil War cannon.

The Texas Derby itself has been a tightly contested affair. As of right now, Houston leads the series 6-5 and currently has El Capitán. All time, FC Dallas and Houston have played 33 times with Dallas winning 13 matches, scoring 49 goals and Houston winning 12 matches, also scoring 49 goals.

If you talk to Dynamo fans, they will mention that the big advantage they have over Dallas will be the two MLS Cups they have won, to FCDs zero. However, as of 2016, Dallas has won more overall trophies (3 - 1 Supporters Shield, 2 US Open Cups) than Houston. In all honesty, it might not compare, but when talking about rivalries, educated and reasonable responses go out the window.

Without a doubt, the most iconic memory from the rivalry has to be the Ricardo Clark kick of Carlos Ruiz back in 2007. Ruiz, who was nicknamed El Pescadito or little fish, was known to get under players skin. For as great as he was a striker, he might have been an even better pest. In the match in 2007, Ruiz got under Ricardo Clark’s skin to the point where he kicked Carlos, while he was on the ground. The kick wasn’t a little toe punch, instead, think of it more as Sebastian Janikowski (the Oakland Raiders kicker) trying to hit a 65 yard field goal. Clark, was obviously sent off and that kick more or less lives in infamy now.

Personally, my favorite game in the rivalry has got to be the St. Patty’s Day game in 2013. FC Dallas had lost El Capitán the previous two years and had hit a bit of a rough patch. In this particular match, Dallas had jumped out to a two goal lead. Dallas soon gave up the lead and seemed destined to draw their rival at home. Then, the returned hero, Kenny Cooper, scored a late winner to seal the three points.

The matchup between these two clubs has been weird as of late. Houston came back over to the Western Conference in 2015 with the addition of NYCFC and Orlando to the league. Since then, they haven’t really been very good. Hopefully with the two squads now being in the same conference, we will be able to see more matches with more on the line. I look forward to the day when FCD and Houston get to meet in the playoffs again (last time was 2007).

Secondary Rivals

Colorado Rapids

This rivalry has kind of faded as of late. A lot of it has to do with Colorado not being very good and when they were good, FC Dallas wasn’t. It was nice to see both teams back at the top of the conference in 2016 battling it out for the Supporters Shield and US Open Cup. In both competitions, FCD came out ahead of Colorado before both teams failed to reach the biggest price, MLS Cup.

The Colorado rivalry goes back to the early days of MLS. The two teams first met in 1996 in the inaugural season of MLS. The Rapids came away that day as victors, thus starting the rivalry. The reason the rivalry took off in the early days was because the two teams kept meeting up in high leverage games. In 1997 the two clubs met in the Western Conference final, in which the Rapids were able to advance to MLS cup. 9 years later, the two clubs met again in the playoffs and Colorado knocked FC Dallas out of the playoffs, again. The rivalry came to its pinnacle in 2010, when the clubs met in MLS Cup. Colorado, again came out on top, due to an FCD own goal in stoppage time. That game still hurts to think about.

Like any good rivalry, both sides have their ‘best games’. In 2016, Colorado posted an article about the 10 most important games between the two clubs. You can check it out here. It’s interesting to see what matches the Rapids picked as the top 10.

Luckily, both of these teams have the potential to be good again in 2017 and should lead for a couple more exciting affairs. Hopefully this rivalry is able to get rocking again.

Chicago Fire - Brimstone Cup

I only put the Fire on the list because we have a rivalry trophy with them. The rivalry began in 2001 when the supporters groups from the two clubs came together and decided to create the Brimstone Cup. Interesting note, after the Supporters Shield, the Brimstone Cup was the 2nd award created by MLS fans.

The rivalry isn’t what it use to be. With Chicago now currently playing in the Eastern Conference, the teams only see each other once a year, during the regular season. There is a chance they might cross paths in other competitions, but as for the Brimstone Cup is concerned, it all hinges on the one meeting a year. The current standings for the cup are 9-5-2 in favor of FC Dallas. In theory, FCD should be able to hold the cup for the foreseeable future. As of right now, Dallas has the stronger team. Hopefully, Chicago is able to bounce back after a couple years of being in the cellar of MLS. The league is stronger as a whole when the Fire are relevant and competing for playoff spots.

Recent Rivals

Seattle Sounders - Western Conference Semifinals Rivalry

There isn’t really a name for the rivalry between Seattle and FCD, but if it did, it would be the ‘Western Conference Semifinals Rivalry’ since the clubs have met there the last three years in a row. Over that time, Seattle holds the advantage 2-1 in those series. I would argue the 2016 matchup should have an asterisk beside it, since Mauro Diaz went down two weeks before the series with a ruptured achilles. (To be fair, I don’t think Seattle fans nor players really care what I think though.)

Any FC Dallas fan will point back to the home leg of the 2015 WC semifinal match as one of their favorite memories as a fan. I could try to explain how the game unfolded but it wouldn’t do it any justice. So, watch the video below, embrace the goosebumps and enjoy the ride.

That 2015 matchup, in a lot of ways, was the FC Dallas coming out party. It was moment when the rest of MLS was put on noticed that this young team, with quality home grown players and a terrific manager were ready to play on some of the biggest stages the league has to offer and was going to be good for years to come.

Portland Timbers - Tissue Gate

For whatever reason, FC Dallas doesn’t get along well with Cascadia region of the league. Between Seattle, Portland and Vancouver there isn’t much love lost between them. The Portland rivalry again, is a more recent addition to the list. Portland came into the league in 2013 and have played a very rough, aggressive type of soccer. For whatever reason, anytime FCD went up to their place, the games turned nasty.

The rivalry really ramped in 2014 when FCD ended a midsummer matchup in Portland with only nine men (Blas Perez and Moises Hernandez were sent off). FC Dallas jumped out to an early lead before self destructing allowing the Timbers to tie the match in stoppage time. You can watch/read all about it here. Those games a couple of years back were like adding gasoline to a fire. When you have intense players like Blas Perez, Will Johnson, Kah, Michel, and Chara, and then add Caleb Porter and Oscar Pereira, the games were always going to have a little extra spark to them.

The rivalry reached the big time when the two clubs met in 2015. FC Dallas again went up to Portland and again came away empty handed. They lost 3-1 on the night but that wasn’t the story. At the end of the match, Oscar Pereira took a tissue over to Caleb Porter, as to say, “stop whining to the refs.” Caleb then proceeded to toss the tissue away and point at the scoreboard. Oscar later went on to explain his actions, which can be seen here.

FC Dallas went on to meet the Portland Timbers in 2015 in the Western Conference Finals and ended up coming up just short (a goal line clearance from Nat Borchers short) from advancing to MLS Cup. However, in the spring of 2016, FCD went back to Portland in a midweek matchup and were able to get their first victory there. It wasn’t much of a payback or even consolation, but it was nice to see the club get that monkey off of it’s back.

Rivals have come and gone over the last 21 years. The league is ever changing, as are the dynamics of the teams that play within it. Five years from now, FC Dallas might have three new recent rivals while Portland and Seattle fade to background. The jerseys of the teams might change, but hopefully the intensity of those big games stays the same. As fans, we life for those moments.

The one thing I know for sure that won’t change is our hatred/distaste for Houston. More than anything, I want FC Dallas to win MLS Cup and CCL. With those two titles, there won’t be any confusion on who the better club is.

Lastly, I will leave you with this…

“Build a bonfire! Build a bonfire! Put Houston at the top… Put (current opponent) in the middle and we will burn the *ahem* down!!”