FRISCO, Texas — The Brimstone Cup is elegant, yet crooked — and that’s the beautiful part about it.
The cup is bent at the top after the Chicago Fire’s supporter’s group, “Section 8”, dropped the trophy from the capo stand in then-Toyota Park in 2012. It hasn’t been fixed since, but it’s only helped re-spark the rivalry between the two teams even further.
The cup was created in 2001 by R.S. Owens Corporation, the company that makes the trophies for the Academy Awards. Winning the trophy is simple — it’s given to the team with the most points in games played between the two by the end of the season. Back when the rivalry was first ignited, the teams played twice in the regular season.
FC Dallas and the Fire may only play once a year these days due to being in different conferences, but the matchup holds a special place in the hearts of both fanbases. After all, it’s the longest fan-driven rivalry in MLS history.
The cup’s name derived from a reference to both of the clubs’ names back then — the Chicago Fire and Dallas Burn. What used to be one of the biggest rivalries in MLS has dropped in the pecking order for both clubs.
The Houston Dynamo joined MLS in 2006, the New England Revolution along with D.C. United went back-and-forth with Chicago in thrilling playoff games, and Columbus Crew is a rival by proximity these days. The FC Dallas-Chicago Fire rivalry was never the same since the introductions of various teams in the league.
“We only play them once a year, and it’s kind of a thing where our rivals are teams that we play a lot — like Houston or other teams we don’t like,” FC Dallas center back Matt Hedges said. “I just think other rivalries have kind of eclipsed it. I don’t think it’s necessarily gone down. Others have just gone up.”
Yet, the fans are still invested in it, and rightly so. Honoring past fans and players who were so invested in the rivalry is important to the current fanbases. It’s one of the reasons why both supporter’s groups are still heavily invested in bringing the Brimstone Cup to their respective homes.
“When I look at what it means, I think to the supporters it means a lot,” Dallas Beer Guardians President Bailey Brown said. “It’s one of those things that we know every year it’s coming. We get excited for it, we talk to Section 8 of Chicago about it, and its history. We honor it because it was honored in the past, and it meant so much to Bobby Rhine, it meant so much to those original group when it started. We’re trying to honor it the best way that we can now. I think people who have been around since it was created in 2001 are going to feel the same way.”
Looking at the Brimstone Cup and the rivalry as a whole, a lot of the records and milestones produced between this particular fixture have been set by players who have since retired or moved on. The top-five scorers in the battle for the Brimstone Cup are led by former FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper, and he’s followed by four other FCD players, including the likes of Bobby Rhine and Jason Kreis.
It wasn’t until 2016, when FC Dallas won the Supporter’s Shield and U.S. Open Cup in the same year, that the rivalry ramped up again.
“It was the first time DBG had won it since its existence,” Brown said. “We were the ones that took it forward once it came back to us in ’16. I would say that it kind of changed in a way because Chicago dropped it off their capo stand and never fixed it. Now, it’s bent, and it looks so interesting. It is something to look at. I think that kind of helped spark the rivalry again since they’re east and we’re west, and we only play each other once a year. Obviously when somebody breaks something, it reignites a rivalry.”
The Brimstone Cup rivalry may not be what it once was, but it isn’t going to die anytime soon because of both supporter’s groups — it means too much to them.
The plaque under the Brimstone Cup reads, The more the kindled combat rises high’r. The more with fury burns the blazing fire. – Virgil. Aeneid VII
“It’s something that is special to us, and we know it’s ours,” Brown said.