Know Thy Classics: Ecuador

Fans bring the heat to the shipyard derby.

Time to expand your knowledge of South American clásicos a bit more. This week we’re heading to hot, humid Guayaquil, Ecuador. Although the Ecuadorian league is perhaps not the most prestigious in South America, some of the bigger clubs do occasionally find success in continental cups (LDU “Liga” Quito being the shining example). This Sunday, the league features its biggest rivalry: El Clásico del Astillero (the Shipyard Derby), Barcelona SC v Emelec.

Ecuador has two main population centers: the political capital of Quito, at 9,000 feet altitude, and the commercial hub of Guayaquil, at sea level. This provides an interesting wrinkle for soccer players in the national league as they’re constantly having to adapt to different altitudes. When Barcelona or Emelec have to visit Liga or Nacional, they have to adjust to the altitude. This bit of information is neither here nor there, just something I thought you’d find curious. You’re welcome.

Barcelona and Emelec were founded in the 1920s in the same neighborhood of Guayaquil. Barcelona, as you might have guessed, was established by Spanish immigrants who were fans of the Catalan giants. They copied the club’s crest wholesale, but to differentiate themselves from the old country, they wear yellow home jerseys instead of crimson and blue stripes.

Sport Club Emelec was created by an American businessman. Yup, USA! USA! George Capwell was the head of Ecuador’s electric utility at the time, and he decided to establish an athletic club associated with his company. He was no footie fan, though. Capwell initially brought sports like baseball, boxing, and swimming to the club, but soccer followed soon after and eventually became the main sport practiced by club members. The Light Bulbs wear a blue kit with a silver sash.

Barcelona and Emelec have been facing off as professional soccer clubs since August of 1943, when Barcelona beat Emelec 4-3. Barcelona has the slight historical edge with 60 victories to Emelec’s 58. They’ve drawn 77 times. Emelec managed the biggest blowout in the derby’s history, a 6-0 thrashing in 1990. The derby’s most prolific scorer is one Lupo “the Tank from Muisne” Quiñónes, who scored 10 times for Emelec and 3 times for Barcelona. It’s somewhat interesting that he played for both clubs in an era when players rarely transferred to their hated derby rivals. Lupo scored over 100 goals in his career during the 70s and 80s.

Sunday’s match is for the sixth fixture of the Copa Credife 2012 and finds both clubs doing very well. Barcelona are top of the league at the moment, having earned a 2-2 draw against Liga de Quito with a brace from Argentine Damián “the Chosen One” Diaz. Emelec got a win last week to move into third place, a point behind Barcelona. The Electrics will want to steal the league lead with a win, while the Canaries will be looking to hold onto their spot at the top. A draw would give second place underdog minnows Manta FC a shot at the top.

As usual, you’re not likely to find this game on TV in the US, but you can always hunt down a stream.

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