By: Eric Ridgeway Fulton
First, the Match Details:
2019 US Open Cup Round 2 Qualifier
FC Denver vs Harpo’s FC
Sunday October 21, 2018 | 1:30pm Kickoff
Aurora Sports Park Field #4 – 19300 E. Colfax Ave. Aurora, CO 80011
Now, the Match Story:
FC Denver’s Order of Operations – AKA: Premier Team Match Prioritization (Unscientific)
• Open Cup Matches
• Open Cup Qualification Matches
• League or Tournament Championship Matches
• Matches Vs Harpo’s FC
• Other Playoff Matches
• Friendly matches vs elite competition (USL, Collegiate D1)
• All other matches
As you can see, there is only one named opposition in our list. When we started this club, we modeled a fair amount of our club on the elite local club at that time, Colorado Sporting. And as we rose up the competitive ranks (and began to learn more about them), they became an obvious rival. After seeing us surpass them competitively, they had a precipitous fall from competitiveness (lower division club longevity is tough to come by), and they stopped being an elite competitive rival, and within a few seasons they were entirely gone from the Colorado soccer scene. Right around that time, an upstart team (at least to us) from Boulder named Harpo’s hit the scene. They were competitive right away when they joined our league (what is now the Colorado Premier League). Our squads have been the top 2-3 teams in the state of Colorado soccer over the past 5 years. For example, during the last three years, our teams are the only still-active lower division Colorado clubs to qualify for the US Open Cup.
Now, if we’re (FC Denver) being honest, the rivalry might not be shared equally by both sides as Harpo’s has an unblemished record against us over the course of remarkable 3-5 year time span. During that time, they’ve beat (80+%) or tied us (15-20%) in an estimated 15 consecutive matches. And in case you’ve been under a rock, we’re nobody’s punching bag. We probably have an 80% winning percentage against teams not named Harpo’s during this same time period. Basically, we seldom lose to anyone, let alone consecutive losses to a single team spanning years. So this begs the point… with the one-sided results of our matches… is it a rivalry? It’s in the same vein as current-MMA Champion Daniel Cormier said in an interview after an excruciating championship loss to Jon Jones (who he lost to in consecutive matches), “”I guess if he wins both fights there is no rivalry, so I don’t know.”
Results aside, it’s easy to acknowledge the rivalry between our sides — as outside of fellow (and currently inactive) Colorado-team Azteca FC, we are by in large the only team to consistently give Harpo’s a legitimate battle season in and season out. Many of our matches, at least from our viewpoint, could have gone either way. And except for a couple of regular season meetings, the games have always been one goal wins for Harpo’s showcasing how tight the contests have been. In addition, Harpo’s is the only team we’ve ever lost a committed starter, if albeit transient one, too (not to mention a couple of others we recognize on that sideline). Those interactions create feelings and storylines that far outlive wins and losses.
One chance we’ve never had is to play each other in the climax of elite lower-division soccer, the US Open Cup and/or US Open Cup qualifying. Neither team has an excuse in regards to roster availability as these weekends have been marked, by all involved, far in advance. Our two Club leadership’s have discussed how this match, with everything on the line, for two elite rivals playing on a Sunday Fall Denver afternoon will be the perfect opportunity to showcase Colorado soccer in front of the Colorado Soccer faithful.
No matter how you slice it, Harpo’s comes into this match as an unquestioned favorite based on their half-decade of success over FC Denver. How that affects the teams’ buildup, approach, confidence, and execution is the story that is waiting to be told. Will FC Denver exercise their Harpo’s demons on the highest stage yet, or will Harpo’s continue their run of success over FC Denver unimpeded? We wholeheartedly believe one way and they unquestionably believe another. Join us Sunday October 21st to find out.
Colorado Soccer doesn’t get better than this. #SupportLocalSoccer