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How the Rhode Island-Hartford rivalry blew up after Open Cup elimination

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 04/19/24, 2:44PM EDT


New England club’s barbs on social media after the other’s defeat in midweek is a harbinger of what’s to come on the field

Photo courtesy Laura Stroud / Charlotte Independence

Apparently, up in New England, misery doesn’t love company.

This week, both Hartford Athletic and Rhode Island FC were eliminated in agonizing fashion from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup by lower-division opponents.

What happened after each of those games is a degree of schadenfreude rarely seen between two teams that haven’t yet taken the field against each other.

It began on Tuesday night as Rhode Island fell in a penalty shootout to USL League One club the Charlotte Independence after twice holding a lead in a memorable 4-4 draw.

Hartford’s response on social media didn’t tag anyone. It didn’t need to.

As the saying goes, pride comes before the fall. Or, as our good friend John Morrissey put it, “Tweeting the shade gif the day before you play is sticking your hand in the bear trap.

And so, inevitably, Hartford Athletic was ensnared by the bear trap on Wednesday night, eliminated at home by New York City FC II.

Cue Jim Halpert.

If you hadn’t circled the first meeting between theses – and their fanbases – on June 1 at Trinity Health Stadium yet, you should do that right now.

The temperature is only going to rise from here. It might quickly put this rivalry among the best in the USL Championship.

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