Rivalries? No Thanks. We Brought Our Own.

To paraphrase somebody or other, sports rivalries are born, not made. Or at least the good ones.

Which is why I have a hard time getting in line with the "MLS Needs Montreal NOW!.. (because of course all serious ideas from truly sincere BigSoccer posters who, you know, really mean it are punctuated with lots of exclamation points and the word "NOW") "....Because They Would Make A Great Rivalry With Toronto" school of thought which is great currency amongst the exclamation point-and-all caps crowd around here.

And it's not because of some deeply ingrained loathing of maple syrup or because they don't speak French correctly up there (fluent Francophones have a difficult time just ordering the restaurants but because they have so many absolutely incredible restaurants it's well worth the hassle).

It's not even because I'm opposed to Montreal being in MLS: first of all, they've got to be an improvement over the whineyassed Canadians we've got now and secondly if we've got to have Canadian teams then Montreal is the logical choice.

Mostly it's because, in my personal opinion, Joey Saputo is a lying, preening, overgrown frat boy living off money someone else made, possibly with the help of the mob. Hell, give the guy a really nasty substance abuse problem and he could be a Kennedy.

Which brings us to Seattle and DC United, who have gone from zero to serious hatred in the blink of an eye this Summer. I'm not going to review the reasons for this because if you don't already know them then you don't give a damn anyway.

What I will say is that some of you Sounders fans might want to tone down the victory dance a little. Take it from someone who's been around this league for a little while now: if there's one sure thing it's that the organization in DC has a long memory and while they sometimes have a down year or two if you think for a minute that they're your permanent bitches now you're going to be in for a really nasty surprise.

In any case, it would be hard to pick two less likely "rivals" based on geography since for the teams to be much farther apart we'd have to set up a team in Honolulu.

Nevertheless, while people are already bemoaning the fact that ancouver may be having some stadium difficulties and what a shame it would be to lose that "great natural rivalry", an actual non league-ginned-up-with-a-phony-baloney-trophy rivalry is in the making with an original MLS team on the opposite coast, one with more stars on their shirts than Seattle is likely to have for 20 years.

The point being, obviously, that really good rivalries come from history and events on the pitch, not the marketing department.

Which brings us to the Chicago Fire and the Columbus Crew, who played yesterday.

One of the interesting aspects of the game was that in their last four regular season games the two teams had played to a draw, although sandwiched in between was the Eastern Conference Championship game last season.

And of course we all recall their one earlier meeting this season, when the Crew went up 2-0 at home before ex-referee Jair Marrufo sent off Crew defender Gino Padula based on the histrionics of notorious diver Cootiemac Blanco, after which a) Chicago scored two goals to save the draw, for which Mr. White b) said thanks for the call by handing off his jersey to the aforementioned Mr. Marrufo.

So yesterday we saw what was more or less a replay, although although no one actually spotted mark Geiger leaving Bridgeview with a Guillermo Barros-Schelotto shirt under his arm.

The Fire went up 2-0 on the strength of a pair of goals by someone named Peter Lowry before Schelotto hit on a nice cross from Robbie Rogers to make it 2-1 which would have stood up except for the moment when Crew Forward Stephen "Big Bird" Lenhart did a remarkable double kung-foo kick to the back of Fire defender Wilman Conde's head and referee Mark Geiger gave the Crew a PK apparently on the theory that getting nailed in the skull is dangerous to your health.


The PK was duly converted, the game ended in yet another draw (making it five and counting) and this time it's Chicago's fans who feel hard done by and are directing towards at Mr. Geiger the kind of polite, refined, well reasoned criticism that all of Chicago is so very famous for.

All in all, a fitting end to a weekend chock-a-block full of tight, nasty matches featuring teams desperate for points.

This has been one heck of a weekend and with seven teams within four points of each other in a battle for only four playoff spots, it's only going to get better.