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Colorado this week? It’s rivalry time!

Data and statistics from the Know Rivalry Project. Let’s look at some interesting numbers.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Back in February I talked a bit about choosing teams to dislike least. This week kicks off the Rocky Mountain Cup in Colorado so I thought I’d revisit disliked teams. Last month the Know Rivalry Project reached out to me with quantitative research and polling information about rivalries around US sports, including—and here’s the big surprise, folks!—MLS teams. With our rivalry match this weekend, I thought it a good time to take a look at some rivalry data.

Here are the basics of the numbers. Sports fans were given 100 points to allocate toward their individual rivalries. Through these points we get a statistical glimpse at who we as RSL fans feel are our biggest rivals and which teams deem us their rivals. I’m going to focus here on RSL for obvious reasons, but you can see MLS rivalries (and other leagues, but, you know, who cares about anything but soccer, right?) here.

Know Rivalry Project: RSL
Know Rivalry Project

In the first column are rival points. This is how much the surveyed RSL fans consider other teams our rivals. LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids are tied. What’s interesting is the reverse rival points. Galaxy fans don’t consider us much of anything while Rapids have a sizable bias against RSL. Sporting KC fell just below the other two and we’re at a similar reverse number with them.

What’s intriguing is that we have generally high relationship and feelings with SKC; that is, we don’t really hate their fans, but we like it best when SKC fails with a schadenfreude of 3.5.

RSL fans have somewhat high feelings for LA but the lowest of relationships. So respondents like LA as a team, but dislike their fans.

Colorado is low on both.


  • Our rivalry with LA is entirely lopsided. They really just don’t seem to much care about us.
  • Our rivalry with Colorado is significantly lopsided in the other direction. They’re entirely focused on us as rivals, but they’re just one of a trio of rivals for RSL fans.
  • Our rivalry with SKC is interesting. SKC fans consider us their top rival, but they’re just below the top two for us; however, in terms of feelings, relationships, and schadenfreude we’re mutually high. This tells me we have a shared rivalry that is also punctuated by respect for one another. This makes sense. We’re the two smallest markets in MLS. Respect and rivalry are mutually beneficial here.
  • I wonder how complete these numbers are. The Know Rivalry Project touts 5,000+ respondents, but when that’s divided among five sports leagues and hundreds of teams, is it statistically significant for MLS and small market MLS teams? How many respondents did MLS have? What about RSL, Colorado, SKC? My concern is further compounded when I look at MLS rivalries overall. Again, I’m forced to wonder about the number of MLS respondents. Was this a significant sample size for the data to be useful?
  • It’s something we can assist with. This is a university study by Western Carolina University and Northern Kentucky University, so I’m happy to suggest you add to their data pool. Just click take the survey.

What do you guys think about the data? What about my conclusions? What conclusions did you dig out? Share your thoughts below.