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Entering Year Three, Which Team Looms as Orlando City's Chief Rival?

Now that we've had two seasons around the league and have two new foes entering MLS, which team really gets your blood boiling? Let’s take a look at the teams you love to hate.

MLS: D.C. United at Orlando City SC Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Each year, we here at The Mane Land have pondered the mysteries of which team would become Orlando City's most hated rival. And, on occasion, we've asked you to let us know which MLS team tops the hate index. Which team is Orlando City’s greatest rival? With the addition of Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC, it’s time to update the list for the upcoming season. But first, let’s take a look back at what you thought the last few years.


Way back before we were a part of SB Nation, we compiled our first list of potential MLS rivals for Orlando City. Before any MLS games had been played we projected that NYCFC (1-1-1), D.C. United (1-2-0), the New York Red Bulls (1-1-0), the New England Revolution (0-1-1), and the Seattle Sounders (0-1-0) were all good candidates to be Orlando City’s most hated rival. With NYCFC entering the league at the same time as Orlando City, they ran away with the votes in our poll that year. Seattle came in second, followed by "Other," D.C. United, the Red Bulls, and New England. We asked again in November of 2015, when the fire was still in everyone's belly from the first season. Columbus Crew SC was the most hated just after the season, which isn't surprising given that the teams met four times in 2015. New York City was second, followed by D.C. and the Montreal Impact.

That didn't change much in the off-season, as a league-wide hate index, powered by Ranker, showed our fans down voting New York City FC to the bottom of the pile, followed by Montreal Impact, LA Galaxy, D.C., Toronto FC, and the Columbus Crew.


Last year, things cooled off in the Columbus series a bit but picked up after several 2-2 draws with New England. Some of that had a lot to do with the trade of striker Kei Kamara from the Crew to the Revolution. Kamara, who shushed The Wall in 2015, walked across the Lions' emblem at midfield at Camping World Stadium in 2016 as he continued to show his disrespect towards the City Beautiful. Orlando City continued its rivalry with New York City FC, but owned it by winning twice and drawing once, including a dramatic 2-2 tie at Yankee Stadium in which the Lions rallied with two late goals.

By the fall of 2016, we were already discussing the incursion into the South made by Atlanta United, which would be joining MLS in time for the 2017 season. It certainly seemed the newbies from Georgia would make for a strong rivalry with Orlando, and the league agreed, pitting the Lions and Atlanta against each other three times when the schedule came out this off-season.


Heading into 2017, let’s see if we can guess who will emerge as the team's top rivals going forward. Here are the contenders.

New York City FC - After making the playoffs last season as Orlando City fell short, the animosity regarding the team that entered the league the same time as us is a lock for being on the list. Add in that our new coach is their former coach, and there’s even more fuel for the rivalry.

Columbus Crew - With a 0-1-1 record against Columbus last year and 2-2-2 over the past two years, the Eastern Conference foe remains a potential rivalry. Orlando City plays three matches against the Crew in 2017, and could significantly impact both teams' chances at making the playoffs.

New York Red Bulls - Orlando City wasn’t able to solve the Red Bulls problem last year, going 0-2-1 against the team from the Big Apple. Orlando City only has two matches against the Red Bulls this season, making them all the more important given last year’s results.

Minnesota United FC - Orlando City only plays one match against the new MLS side, but given that their coach is Adrian Heath, they've hired former Orlando City assistant coaches, and they now have Kevin Molino as well, it is going to be quite an intense match. All the right things will be said, but there will be an underlying tension.

Atlanta United FC - Orlando City will play three matches against the expansion squad from Georgia. Just like Minnesota, former Lions can be found on the other side of the field at Atlanta. Early on, former Orlando City GM Paul McDonough, headed north after leaving Orlando. Former Lions Harrison Heath and Mikey Ambrose are also wearing black and red this year. Add in that they are in the Eastern Conference, and are now the closest team geographically, and you have the makings of a true rivalry.

There you have it. Which team do you think will be Orlando City’s biggest rival in 2017? It’s time to vote, and let us know what you think in the comments. Vamos Orlando!