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The Next Chapter in the Columbus Crew SC, Chicago Fire Rivalry

The rivalry kicks off again.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Rivalries aren't built in a day and that's certainly true for Columbus Crew SC and the Chicago Fire. Dating back to 1998, when the Fire entered Major League Soccer as an expansion team, there has been fierce competitions between the two sides.

"They're definitely a team that a rivalry has been created over the many years," Crew SC winger Ethan Finlay said of Chicago. "You can go back to the Brian McBride days, when he played for both teams, that kind of thing."

Hristo Stoichkov, Piotr Nowak, and Chris Armas were some of the original instigators for the Fire, while McBride, Robert Warzycha, and Jeff Cunningham were all there for the Black and Gold. McBride, Ante Razov, Jon Busch, and others have been on both sides, wearing both colors.

Every Columbus and Chicago fan has distinct memories in the series. In the early years, it was the Fire eliminating Crew SC from the playoffs, but things changed in more recent years.

"There's a lot of history, whether it's players or there's certain games where we played against them," Finlay said. "One that I think back about is the Eastern Conference Final game in '08 when [Crew SC] won the Cup and that was a heck of a night in Crew Stadium. There's definitely some history there."

Crew SC fans think back to that November 13, 2008 night with pride. It was that night at MAPFRE Stadium where Columbus defeated Chicago to advance to the team's first MLS Cup Final.

The rivalry is fun for everyone involved. For those on the field, playing against a rival makes the game a little more intense.

"I think it's always just a little added incentive, a little bit more fun, a little more exciting for everyone involved," Crew SC captain Michael Parkhurst said.

"It makes the game more competitive, there's more on the line. I think the game will be intense. Both teams put everything out on the line."

The battles on the field are well documented. Each game between these two clubs is worth more than three points because there is pride on the line. Neither side wants to go home a loser in this one because it stings just that much more.

For the fans, it's about supporting their side against a team and another supporters group they detest.

"You could say you get bragging rights or what not, but it's more for the fans," winger Justin Meram said when asked about the rivalry. "They enjoy this and they enjoy the chants and kind of going against their fans and who's got the better fans and things like that."

For each game, fans of the away team make the roughly six hour drive between Columbus and Chicago to support their team on the road. The fairly close proximity helps to make the rivalry more intense and provides this fun dynamic between the supporters.

"I think that's the beauty of soccer," Berhalter said of the traveling fans. "That's what it's all about. Soccer is about having away fans and home fans and it's great to see that in our stadium.

"Obviously it's a close team in proximity and it's a team that is in our conference and a tradition rival and the red against the gold and the black is a rivalry."

Friday night's contest is the first of three meetings between the two teams this season and another chapter in the rivalry. The final result is yet to be known, but the players and fans will be ready when the game kicks off.

"I think it does [get everyone guys going]," Berhalter said.

"We'll be ready to play."