Definition of Rivalry
:the act of: the state of being a:
:the act of rivaling: the state of being a rival: competition
Examples of rivalry
- there is a bitter rivalry between two groups
- a strong sense of rivalry
Definition of rival
- one of two or more striving to reach or obtain something that only one can possess
- one striving for competitive advantage
The preceding is the definition of the words "rivalry" and "rival" given in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary. While not everyone considers Sporting Kansas City to be a "rival" in the sense that they don't necessarily conjure hard feelings in the hearts of Chicago supporters, MLS is billing matches to be played this weekend as part of something they are touting as "Rivalry Week'.
Sure, it probably would have made more sense from a Chicago perspective to schedule a match between the Fire and Columbus, DC United, last weekend's opponent New England, or even FC Dallas in order to give more meaning to the term "rivalry" this weekend but there are a few valid (and some equally questionable) reasons for explaining why the league would feature this match as a national showcase game in the middle of a slate of potentially contentious match-ups this weekend. Let's just assume that the obvious angle surrounding geographical proximity is a given in terms of justifying a legitimate rivalry. Let's also ignore that Columbus is the closest MLS city to Chicago.
Let's also get by the painfully blatant fact that the league (and apparently the front office in Kansas City) is attempting to artificially create rivalries in order to draw viewers to television programming which centers around NBC Sports Network's stab at a "Red Zone" type of program this Saturday while all of these rivalry matches are taking place. For the record, this is a good thing and an excellent concept if NBC can pull it off correctly but it's coming off as forced in the context of some of the rivalry matches.
True rivalries as football fans see them need to happen organically over the course of time with both sides experiencing the ups and downs, heartbreaks and triumphs that can only be attained through playing meaningful games against each other. Rivalries that are important to supporters can't be manufactured through sandwich promotions, snazzy television production, GIF's, or even league mandates that rivalries need to be pushed in order to generate the all important television ratings numbers that will eventually lead to MLS flourishing on a national level.
It's got to happen on the field, not in the television booth, or on the marketing desk. Otherwise, "Superclasico's" that have nothing classic about them will come off as contrived, made for tv productions with little authenticity behind them.
Sporting may be Chicago's rival in the broad Merriam-Webster definition of the word but in reality they're no bigger rival for the Fire than Houston or New York. They're an Eastern conference foe that the Fire need to beat. For now, the rivalry isn't really much more than that.
The actual game
Sporting KC has been uncharacteristically shaky defensively in the first two games of the season and they could be facing some of the same defensive issues that are plaguing the Fire. Both Aurelien Collin and Chance Myers are listed as questionable for this match. Give aways in the back led to scoring opportunities for Philadelphia in their opener and Robert Earnshaw punished them for sloppiness in Toronto last week. They're still dangerous offensively with Graham Zusi running the operation although they're playing a different style than they did last season.
Possible starting line ups
GK Jimmy Nielsen
D Sinovic, Besler, Collin, Myers
M Feilhaber, Rosell, Nagamura
F Sapong, Bieler, Zusi
D Segares, Berry, Anibaba, Thompson
M Duka, Larentowicz, Lindpere, Nyarko
F Rolfe, Santos
Chicago - OUT: Arne Friedrich, Brendan King, Steven Kinney, Victor Pineda - QUESTIONABLE: Logan Pause
Sporting - OUT: Teal Bunbury, Jacob Peterson - QUESTIONABLE: Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin
It's tough to see the Fire going into Kansas City and coming out with three points given their form to start the season. Kansas City may be vulnerable at the moment but one has to question if the Fire can finish chances consistently. It will also take a herculean defensive effort given the injuries in back to keep Sporting at bay.
SKC 2 Fire 1
The rest of the league - RIVALRY WEEK!!!!
DC 2 New York 2
Toronto 1 Montreal 2
New England 0 Philadelphia 1
San Jose 1 Columbus 1
Colorado 0 Real Salt Lake 2
Portland 2 Seattle 3
Houston 2 FC Dallas 1
Chivas 0 Los Angeles 3
Record to date: 9/17