D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls share the most storied rivalry in Major League Soccer. With only a 200 mile stretch of interstate separating the two cities, the squads face off three times a year in the Atlantic Cup. For those keeping score, D.C. has won the title nine times since it became official in 2002. Oh, and United has won the series 12 times since 1996.
Though the rivalry has existed since the League’s inception, it wasn't until 2002 that a formal trophy and name were awarded to the rivalry—the Atlantic Cup. But the trophy isn't the only thing these two sides have shared. There are several player and coaching connections between the two metropolitan teams.
Black-and-Red Captain Dwayne De Rosario featured in 13 matches for the Red Bulls in 2011. On June 27, 2011, D.C. United traded Dax McCarty for De Rosario. McCarty played with United for 13 matches, before joining New York. Since the trade, McCarty has featured in 71 fixtures for the Red Bulls, scoring 7 goals and notching 9 assists. While with the Black-and-Red, De Rosario has played 62 matches, scoring 23 goals and registering 20 assists.
Another player to move north after featuring for United is Brandon Barklage. D.C. drafted Barklage in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, where he stayed through the 2011 season. The Red Bulls signed Barklage in March of 2012. He has featured in 41 games for New York since, netting two goals and helping on 10.
Goalkeeper Luis Robles was also drafted by D.C. United in 2007, but did not sign a contract with the Black-and-Red. Instead he traveled to Germany and played for FC Kaiserslautern II.
A former member of the Black-and-Red will be roaming the New York sidelines on Saturday. Head Coach Mike Petke featured for United from 2003-2005 after suiting up for the New York/New Jersey Metrostars from 1998-2002. The Red Bulls Head Coach made 58 appearances in the D.C. back line, netting 5 goals. D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen and Petke were teammates from 2003-2005, winning an MLS Cup together in 2004. Petke returned to New York in 2008, making 35 appearances through 2010, before being named Head Coach.
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While friendships have been made and memories created, once those white lines are crossed, it’s all business. D.C. needs to beat New York by two to remain Atlantic Cup titleholders for the 2013 season.