Reigniting a feud decades in the making and littered with ferocity throughout history, the MLS match between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Minnesota United erupted into fan violence Saturday evening leaving seven dead any many more injured. Slated as part of MLS’ promotional “Rivalry Week,” the two hated sides clashed for the coveted “Golden Noose,” the fan trophy awarded to the winner of the derby each year as a grim reminder of bad blood that underlies the historic rivalry.
“The passion is real, and the hate is palpable,” said Gleut Chipley, a hardcore United supporter, while still sporting the mask he used to continue cheering his team through the tear gas police used to quell the violence. “If I saw a woman wearing a Whitecaps jersey holding a starving infant and begging me for food, I would spit at them.”
Dating back to 1976, Vancouver and Minnesota have always had a deep hatred when it comes to soccer. Beginning, as legend has it, when Alan Willey sacrificed a baby moose with a silver blade on the grounds of Empire Stadium – the moose and the arena both considered sacred to native Vancouverites – this derby is often marred by barbaric violence both on and off the field. This year, supporters from the Dark Clouds and True North Elite peppered visiting Whitecaps players with boiling hot poutine and grenade tossed cans of Molson at the 3,000 Vancouver supporters that made the 1,700 mile trip to Minneapolis. Vancouver Southsiders responded in kind by using the sharpened femurs of loons they had captured and killed as makeshift shivs and attacking Minnesotans while bonfires of Prince records raged.
MLS has been criticized for continuing to promote the controversial Rivalry Week despite the perennial bloodshed it brings. The league may need to take this criticism more seriously moving forward, as the always-fierce Chicago/Orlando derby was cancelled when the pitch was deemed unplayable after rioting Orlando fans looted every tank in the Shedd Aquarium and left the fish to rot on the Toyota Park field under the Chicago sun.