On May 20th, D.C. United will travel north to the town of Chester to take on the Philadelphia Union, kicking off MLS's Heineken Rivalry Week. In an effort to formalize the budding rivalry between the two teams, there has been contest to name the Cup that they will compete for each season, similar to the Atlantic Cup. Their four choices for fans: the I-95 Cup, the Capital Cup, the Freedom Cup or the Colonial Cup.
While those choices are okay, this is not your traditional bitter rivalry. The rivalry between supporters of United and the Union has grown more out of respect and camaraderie than out of hatred or bad blood. Sure, the fans go at each other for 90 minutes, but outside of the games they have come together to support each other during times of sorrow.
That's why it was refreshing to read the article from our friends at Brotherly Game, where they consider the idea of naming the rivalry the Shertz-Gemmell Cup -- after supporters who were taken from us well before their time. Eric Shertz, a Philadelphia Union supporter, passed away on Easter Sunday in 2014, while United supporter Kenneth Gemmell lost three members of his family in December 2014 when a plane crashed into their Gaithersburg home.
What better way to name the rivalry than after supporters from our two fan bases who brought us together? After Shertz's passing, United supporters showed up en masse to tailgate with Union supporters to honor their fallen member. Union supporters returned the favor by joining United supporters after the plane crash that took the lives of Gemmell's wife and two children. It has now become customary for these two groups of supporters to join together whenever our two teams face off.
Calling the game the Shertz-Gemmell Cup would not just be a great tribute to the fallen but also sincerely define what this rivalry has grown to be: a friendly rivalry where fellowship and mutual respect win out over disrespect and incivility. We here at Black And Red United think that the Shertz-Gemmell Cup is the best possible name for this officially designated rivalry competition. It's a name that we can use regardless of what the teams and the league officially name this duel.
Use the hashtag #ShertzGemmellCup to let D.C. United know on Twitter. Comment on Facebook and let them know that this name is born from supporters and correctly identifies the community we have built together off the field. And, here's to our squad hoisting a newly created Shertz-Gemmell Cup in front of a raucous Javier "Chico" Solares Stand at Buzzard Point sometime in 2018.