We’re continuing our celebration of 3rd Degree’s 20th birthday (last October) with a look back at the best of the Brimstone Cup.
The Brimstone Cup is awarded to the winner of the annual rivalry between FC Dallas and the Chicago Fire. It was created by fans prior to the 2001 season and named the Brimstone Cup due to the obvious naming connections between the Chicago Fire and the then-named Dallas Burn. The Brimstone Cup was the first fan-created rivalry Cup in MLS history.
The Brimstone Cup has a fantastic history and tradition, I suggest you read all about it on the Brimstone Cup website if you would like a deep dive.
Since you can check out the entire history for yourself at the site, it would do little good just to rehash it all in this space. Instead, here are top five moments from the Brimstone Cup’s history. Obvious we’re biased toward results in FC Dallas’ favor. (Ok, I cheated and gave you six.)
Top Five Moments in Brimstone Cup History
Honorable Mention – FC Dallas’ 100th MLS Win
August 19, 2002. Dallas Burn 3, Chicago Fire 1 at The Cotton Bowl (Dallas, TX). Burn captain Oscar Pareja (and current FCD head coach) opens the scoring. Hristo Stoitchkov gets an equalizer in the 64th. Jason Kreis grabs the game-winner in the 89th minute and Ronnie O’Brien with a bonus goal at 90+1′. The win gives the Burn the franchise’s 100th MLS victory and the Brimstone Cup for 2002.
#5 – Ruiz Steals the Cup Late
September 9, 2007. FC Dallas 1, Chicago Fire 1 at Toyota Stadium (Frisco, TX). FC Dallas had already won the first game of the year in Chicago, but the Fire put on a strong defensive showing in Frisco to back up a Chris Rolfe goal and appeared to have earned a series tie (FCD would have retained the BC in a tie anyway). Carlos Ruiz says no way and grabs a stunner 3 minutes into extra time to steal the win and the Brimstone Cup outright for the 6th season in a row.
#4 – Biggest Winning Margin by FC Dallas in Chicago
September 21, 2008. FC Dallas 4, Chicago Fire 1 at Toyota Park (Bridgeview, IL). Jeff Cunningham scores a brace, Aaron Pitchkolan and Bruno Guarda also score. Brian McBride nets the consolation goal for Chicago in the dying stages of the game. The win gives FC Dallas the season sweep of Chicago and the Brimstone Cup for the 7th season in a row.
#3 – Biggest FC Dallas Upset
May 31, 2009. FC Dallas 3, Chicago Fire 0 at Toyota Park (Bridgeview, IL). The Chicago Fire are undefeated (5-0-6) and coming off a Thursday game they decide to rest some players against FC Dallas, who has the worst record in MLS. FCD surprises most observers and comes out in a 4-5-1 formation. Jeff Cunningham scores off a corner. A Dax McCarty free-kick (Dax was with Dallas at the time) ends in a Fire captain C.J. Brown own goal. Kenny Cooper Jr. scores a pretty free-kick goal late in the game. Bakary Soumare receives a second yellow for Chicago and is sent off. This game tied the BC points for the season and allowed FC Dallas to retain the Brimstone Cup for an 8th season in a row.
#2 – The Burn Eliminate the Defending Champs in a Game 3 Shocker.
October 27, 1999. Dallas Burn 3, Chicago Fire 2 at the Cotton Bowl (Dallas, TX). The Burn took Game 1 on two Ariel Graziani goals but the Fire crushed Dallas 4-0 in Game 2. Dema Kovalenko ads to the Dallas misery by breaking Brandon Pollard’s leg late in the Game 2 blowout.
Six minutes into Game 3, back at the Cotton Bowl, and the Fire are already up 2-0 via Ante Razov and Jesse Marsch goals. The Burn proceeds to mount an epic comeback, starting with a Chad Deering goal 10 minutes into the second half. Then Zarco Rodriguez and Ariel Graziani score two minutes apart in the final 10 minutes of the game to complete the improbable 3-2 comeback eliminating the Fire from the playoffs.
For years afterward, this game was regarded by many in MLS, not just Dallas fans, as the greatest single game in MLS history.
Here’s a highlight video of the entire 1999 Burn vs Fire series.
#1 – The Spark that Lit the Rivalry
September 10, 1998. Dallas Burn 3, Chicago Fire 2 at the Cotton Bowl (Dallas, TX). This is the game that lit the blaze that would become the Brimstone Cup.
It was late in the inaugural Chicago Fire Season, a season in which they would win the double. Chicago had won all four prior meetings that season, including the previous meeting in the US Open Cup Semifinals in New Orleans. That USOC game saw 45 fouls and 3 ejections (Jason Kreis, Diego Gutierrez, and Roman Kosecki).
Jason Kreis opened the scoring early in the final 1998 meeting between the two clubs, but thanks to Ante Razov and Josh Wolff goals, the Fire were leading 2-1 late in the game. The Burn’s Dante Washington finds the back of the net in the 83rd minute to tie the game.
Then, with about 17 seconds or so left on the clock (the stadium clock was official in those days and counted down), the Burn collect the ball deep in their own end. With a series of quick long passes, the Burn gets the ball all the way down the field to Zarco Rodriguez who scores with two seconds left to win the game 3-2.
Zarco’s goal can be seen at the :59 mark of this video of the late, great Bobby Rhine explaining the origins of the Brimstone Cup.