Rivalries in sports are always interesting. Where do the come from? Is it due to playing frequently in a season? Geographic location? Playoff battles? Fan issues?
It is hard to place where rivalries begin, but they can be fierce.
Over their 19 seasons, the Columbus Crew have developed several rivalries and I'm in search of who is the team's ultimate rival.
The original rivalry emerged in the first game of the first season, as the Crew took down a loaded D.C. United 4-0 at Ohio Stadium. United knocked Columbus from the playoffs three straight seasons between 1997 and 1999, preventing the Black and Gold from reaching their first MLS Cup Final each year.
Though D.C. has not been the dynasty it was when MLS began, games between the two are still highly contested. The Crew's 3-0 victory at R.F.K. Stadium this year was a welcome sight for many fans who witnessed the dark days when Columbus couldn't buy a win in the nation's capital.
The Fire were an MLS expansion team in 1998 and took the league by storm with their rabid Section 8 supporters and on field success. This was a natural geographic rivalry with both teams in the Midwest, but it began on the field with each team winning at home in year one. Chicago frustrated the Crew over the years with big wins and constant battles for playoff position, owning the regular season series with a 24-13-13 record.
The biggest year in this rivalry was likely 2008, when both teams were contending for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. After playing to two 2-2 draws during the regular season, the teams played a tightly contested Eastern Conference Final, with Columbus coming from behind to earn a 2-1 win and their first MLS Cup Finals appearance.
This rivalry took to the stands, as the fans of both teams have a unique dislike for each other. Those clad in red were some of the first to take over the south end of Columbus Crew Stadium and caused issues at points, including thievery of Crew fans' merchandise. There have been confrontations home and away as the battle on the field has been known to spill into the parking lot.
Another expansion side, Toronto joined MLS in 2007 and were quickly marked as rivals to the Crew due to the relative close proximity between the two cities. The Trillium Cup, named because it is the flower of the province of Ontario and the state flower of Ohio, was created in 2008 between the two franchises and has been won by Columbus all but one season.
The on-field record does not speak to a major rivalry, the Reds have only defeated the Black and Gold twice, but the fans are what make this rivalry tick. In 2009, just under 2,000 fans traveled to Crew Stadium from Toronto, lighting several flairs and causing damage to the south stands. After the game, a 1-1 draw, there were many altercations in the parking lot and the Toronto fans boycotted the subsequent match due to restrictions.
Not a rivalry in a tradition sense of the word, as these teams don't see each other frequently, but it has built into something unique.
Following the Crew's 2008 MLS Cup title, head coach Sigi Schmid left Columbus to be closer to his wife on the west coast and was named the new boss for the expansion Sounders side. In the MLS Expansion Draft, Schmid took Brad Evans, who was an important piece of the Black and Gold's midfield the previous campaign. Chad Marshall, the Crew's most tenured player, was dealt to the Emerald Green this offseason, adding another dynamic to this rivalry.
The Crew's dramatic 2-1 win in Seattle this season was only their second victory over the Sounders in MLS play in nine meeting, though only three of the games have been decided more than one goal.
The two teams met in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final in 2010 with Seattle winning their second consecutive Open Cup championship 2-1 at Qwest Field.
Perhaps what has fueled this rivalry the most was the 2013 World Cup Qualifier between the United State and Mexico, which was held at Crew Stadium in September. Sounders supporters volunteered to be capos, leaders of the supporters section, something that had never been done for a U.S. game in Columbus. This decision angered many local fans who were involved in preparation and a social media barrage ensued.
So who do you see as the Crew's biggest rival? Vote on the poll below and comment on why you feel that way at the bottom of the page.