Biggest Rival? Colorado versus Kansas City matches seem to always have something at stake
It doesn't seem to matter who the players are, or the coaches, or what nicknames or colors the team use. When Colorado faces Kansas City, something is often at stake.
I wrote about this last year ahead of the teams' U.S. Open Cup 4th Round match, which Sporting KC won, 3-1. That was the ninth time Colorado and KC met to knock the other out of a competition since 1996.
The two are set to square off on Saturday in their only meeting of the season (at Sporting Park, 6:30 p.m. MT on Altitude TV). And while they are not playing to knock each other out, the weekend match has its own importance.
Both teams sit on 39 points after 26 games, each in third place in their respective conferences - Colorado in the West, and KC in the East.
A win for either side could move them within three points of the best record in the League (pending other results). And, it could provide some temporary breathing room as each tries to secure one of the top five spots in their conference, which would mean an MLS Cup Playoff berth.
The game also could extend or break a run for either team.
Colorado enters the match with a nine-game undefeated streak and would set a new club record with a point for a 10th straight game. KC enters the game having lost three of their last four regular season games.
Pareja and Sturgis Preview KC match
In some ways, it's like the old days when the two played in the same conference.
Before the new-age rivalries arose, as charter MLS clubs Colorado and Kansas City had their own rivalry going.
From 1996-2004 the teams were grouped together. However when MLS expanded in 2005, adding Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA, Kansas City was moved over to the Eastern Conference and the two new teams joined the Rapids in the West.
Of course we know what happened next, with Rapids and RSL establishing one of the best authentic rivalries in the League.
But it didn't mean the old rivalry went away.
Perhaps it's gotten less attention, but since the shift - which meant less regular season matches between Conferences - Colorado and KC have played each other evenly in the regular season, posting 4-4-7 records in the series. They've tied the last four matches, including last year at Dick's Sporting Goods Park when Colorado came back to tie 2-2 - marking only the third time ever that the Rapids came back to earn a point after falling behind by two goals.
Long before Colorado fans were heading through the Rocky Mountains to watch their team play in Utah, they traveled east to Kansas City. And they'll be at Sporting Park on Saturday after the Centennial 38 Supporters Group organized a road trip to help fans support the Rapids away from home.
With the new expansion New York City team joining MLS in 2015, it's possible that MLS may at least consider moving KC back to the Western Conference and perhaps bring new life to a rivalry that has long existed.
On Saturday they'll meet with points on the line as the season winds down, but it shouldn't be surprising if down the road the game is looked at as a key point in the season.
Here's how Colorado and KC have stacked up in all competitions since 1996:
- Regular Season: 50 games | Colorado is 17-20-13, including 14-4-8 at home and 3-16-5 on the road.
- MLS Cup Playoffs: 4 series | KC 3 (2000, 2003, 2011); Colorado 1 (1997)
- Open Cup: 5 single-elimination games | Colorado 3 (1996 2003, 2001); KC 2 (2008, 2012)