After years of facing the Seattle Sounders FC outside of Major League Soccer, the Portland Timbers will finally get a chance to officially play their rivals on the big stage.
After years of facing the Seattle Sounders FC outside of Major League Soccer, the Portland Timbers will finally get a chance to officially play their rivals on the big stage. The Timbers are no strangers to the Sounders, as the teams have been pitted against each another in 75 total matches since 1975. Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., make up the three cities competing for the Cascadia Cup, a competition between the northwest rivals for the best record against each other during the season.
The three teams have yet to play each other in the regular season, but did hold a pre-season “Cascadia Summit” held in Tukwila, Wash. The exhibition matches didn’t go well for the host team, as both Portland and Vancouver beat down the Sounders in convincing fashion. The Timbers shutout a stunned Seattle squad in a 2-0 victory, then ended the three-day tournament with a 1-1 draw against the Whitecaps. The Sounders should be focused on redeeming their earlier poor performances, but this time in front of 36,000 crazed Sounders fans at Qwest field.
Aside from the hype that the rivalry match brings, the Timbers will be focused on stealing their first win on the road as an MLS franchise when they take on Seattle. Currently, the Timbers are 4-3-1 with 13 points in the MLS standings, good enough for fifth place in the Western Conference, but have struggled away from the comforts of Jeld-Wen field. The Sounders (3-3-4, 13 pts) are holding onto fourth place, currently given the edge in the standings over Portland because they have more games played.
The winner of Saturday’s match could move up to third place in the conference standings depending on how the Colorado Rapids (currently sitting in third place) finish over the weekend. Either way, a positive result will be crucial to Portland, who will be looking to continue the momentum they’ve built so far at home. The Timbers are undefeated in MLS play at Jeld-Wen with a 4-0 record, including recent shutout victories over Real Salt Lake and the Philadelphia Union.
Portland and Seattle arguably have the rowdiest fans in MLS, and this will be tested in the upcoming weekend. With a strong tradition of traveling to show their support, the Timbers Army has requested ten buses to run north to Seattle for Saturday’s game, and 600–700 fans are expected to be in attendance.
Both teams are paving the way for MLS supporter groups, giving off a European-like soccer environment in the stands with chanting and incredible enthusiasm for the game. The intensity toward the border state rivalry has caught the attention of the MLS head honchos, as commissioner Don Garber released a statement to USA Today in regard to the build-up of Saturday’s match.
“Rivalries are a key factor in what makes the sport in Europe and Latin America so special,” Garber stated. “We think the rivalry of our Pacific Northwest clubs will change the landscape of soccer in the United States and Canada and serve as an important driver in growing the popularity of our league.”
There is no doubt that this will be the most important game to date for both Seattle and Portland. Bars throughout Portland will be screening the match and are looking forward to what will likely be a fierce and intense 90 minutes of soccer. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. and ESPN2 will be televising the match. ?