Major League Soccer kicks off its Rivalry Week festivities this week, with a plethora of compelling matchups league-wide. Ahead of the exciting week of clashes from Cascadia to New York, we take a look at five of the most captivating showdowns from around the Premier Development League.
Photo provided by Des Moines Menace
2017 Results: After the Des Moines Menace took two wins and a draw from the Thunder Bay Chill in 2016, the latter finally got back to winning ways in 2017. The two teams split their June 9 and June 10 meetings at Fort William Stadium, with the Menace taking the first, 1-0, and the Chill getting revenge a day later, 2-1. In their third and final match of the regular season, the Menace took the season series with a 1-0 win at Valley Stadium. However, the Chill would earn a second helping of revenge with a 2-0 victory in the PDL Playoffs en route to a finals appearance.
Rivalry History: This year extended the Heartland Division winning streak to 11 seasons split between the Menace and Chill. Though the Menace took the better of the regular-season series, the Chill ultimately wound up one place ahead of them atop the division, snapping a three-year streak for Des Moines. With 61 regular-season and playoff meetings between the two since 2000, the Menace maintain their series lead with a 30-26-5 record.
Photo provided by Sounders FC U23
2017 Results: After splitting their two-match 2016 season series, the Portland Timbers U23 and Sounders FC U23 once again split the points evenly in 2017 over three matches. The Sounders FC U23 opened the season well, defeating their Cascadian opposition 1-0 on May 19 in their second match of the year. The playing field was more level in a 1-1 draw in the teams' second meeting on June 4. Finally, the Timbers U23 broke through on June 13 with a 3-1 victory over their regional rivals.
Rivalry History: Since the Timbers U23 joined the PDL in 2009, the two teams have battled annually, with the Timbers U23 holding the upper-hand almost immediately during their perfect 2010 PDL Championship season at 16-0-0. The Sounders FC U23 have gained the upper-hand of late, winning the Northwest Division in 2012 and making the playoffs in 2016 as their rivals failed to qualify, but the Timbers U23 bounced back in 2017 with a division title and Western Conference Championship Semifinals appearance.
Photo provided by Seacoast United Phantoms
2017 Results: After a split 2016, in which the Seacoast United Phantoms and GPS Portland Phoenix each won one of the two matches between the teams, the 2017 edition of the rivalry had a distinctly Seacoast feel to it. The teams played three times, with the Phantoms taking all nine points with an aggregate total of 11-4. They opened with a 6-3 victory on June 18 and took the rematch a week later on June 25, 2-1, with both contests at Amesbury Sports Park. The final contest took place at Deering High School, but ultimately ended with the same result, a 3-0 Phantoms victory.
Rivalry History: Since the Phoenix joined the PDL's Northeast Division in 2010, the two teams have competed annually and have split four of the subsequent eight division titles between them. The Phoenix have emerged on top more often, capturing division crowns in 2011, 2015 and 2016, while the Phantoms had taken just one in 2014 before adding their second this year. The Phantoms wouldn't make it too far into the playoffs before being knocked off by the eventual champions, the Charlotte Eagles.
Photo provided by Charlotte Eagles
2017 Results: Despite competing against one another since 1996, the two teams didn't play one another in 2016 while competing in different leagues. They renewed their rivalry in 2017 as the Wilmington Hammerheads FC joined the Charlotte Eagles in the PDL's South Atlantic Division. The two teams met twice in 2017, with the Eagles taking the better of proceedings. The eventual PDL champions won the season-opener against the Hammerheads 6-2 on May 13, before drawing 1-1 at UNCW Soccer Stadium on June 7.
Rivalry History: The Eagles and Hammerheads first played each other in 1996 in the USISL Pro League and competed on and off through the years in various USL leagues. After being separated once, the Eagles moved to the PDL in 2015. They were reunited in 2017 as the Hammerheads joined them. The latter finished eighth in the South Atlantic division, while the former finished second after two years of winning the division and would ultimately wind up as 2017 PDL Champions. The rivalry looks to continue in 2018, with the Hammerheads eager to catch up to their long-time foes.
Photo provided by David Musante
2017 Results: Reading United AC got the better of the Ocean City Nor'easters in 2016, taking both contests between the two teams. Reading bested their Mid Atlantic foes again in 2017, taking two of three matches, as the Nor'easters were only able to win once. Reading took the first match at Don Thomas Stadium, 1-0, on June 2, as well as the second match at Gurski Stadium on June 29, 2-0. The Nor'easters earned a measure of revenge as they dropped Reading at Carey Stadium on July 2, 1-0.
Rivalry History: After competing in the USL D-3 Pro League Northern Division together from 1999-2001, and the Atlantic Division in 2002, the two teams spent 2003 apart before being re-united in the PDL in 2004. Since then, they've spent most of their time together in the Northeast and more recently Mid Atlantic Divisions, where they've split seven division titles since 2008. With Reading earning titles in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2016, and the Nor'easters winning in 2012 and 2013, this is a rivalry with a winning history over a long period of time.