Skip to content

MLS Rivalry Week backstories: Seattle vs. Portland

Mar 15, 2013, 4:30 PM EST

Timbers Army 3

If we examine the back stories on how rivalries achieve their deliciously acrimonious state – real rivalries, that is, and not the manufactured ones fans tend to sniff out and disregard with extreme prejudice – they usually check the box on one or more of the elements you see in the box below.

Here we look at the Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders rivalry, and which boxes get checked on this clash of Eastern Conference contenders:

The teams meet at 8 p.m. ET Saturday (NBC Sports Network) at CenturyLink Field.

source:

The backstory:

Anyone soul who has stood among the deafening shouts of the Timbers Army or the impassioned screams of the Emerald City Supporters would certainly recognize this one as the gold standard of MLS rivalries. This Pacific Northwest maelstrom of shaped-charged hostility has it all.

It starts with rich layers of history dating back to the North American Soccer League, a league before it’s time, certainly, and undone by the weight of its own grand designs. But it did create history, a good chunk coming from Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. Other rivals may not enjoy each other’s company, but none have such deep, deep roots as this one, dating back to the NASL salad days of the late 1970s.

So when Seattle came aboard as Major League Soccer as its 15th franchise in 2009, with Portland and Vancouver soon to follow as Nos. 17 and 18, all the tribal identities of the wonderful supporters groups were always destined to clash (not literally … we hope) in a way yet unseen in Major League Soccer.

Said commissioner Don Garber at the time: “Our sport is driven by rivalries. It’s part of what makes the sport so special in Europe and Latin America, and it’s what helps make the supporters so passionate about their teams. Now we’re going to have an opportunity to create that in the Pacific Northwest.”

If he only knew how great it would be.

The scenes are just so perfectly set, with teeming downtown grounds, the Timbers Army and the Emerald City Supporters in such fine color and voice, and waiting lines for tickets to matches that truly matter. All of them. But especially ones that count in the Cascadia Cup.

Memorable series moments from the series? Since it started in 1975, probably too many to count. Here’s a start. And there’s some great background here.

Personally, I’ll never forget the billboard. Erected in the shadow of Seattle’s rave green ground, Portland had a huge billboard erected prior to the 2011 season (the Timbers’ first in MLS) proclaiming Stumptown “Soccer City USA.” Good one, Merritt Paulson!

Saturday’s match:

source:

Seattle can be pardoned for an MLS season opening stinker (a loss at home to Montreal) thanks to its subsequent, successful passage through two legs of CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal play. Take that, Tigres!

Osvaldo Alonso (pictured) is still The Man, and the league’s top holding midfielder. (Still a “holding” midfielder, even though he’s playing a little higher up the field this year.)

Portland has been the Kim Kardashian of MLS sides. You know, pretty easy on the eyes but not much substance, not in wins at least. New manager Caleb Porter has the Timbers passing with style and playing defense higher up the field, but there’s been only a draw and a loss at home to show for it.

On the other hand, new playmaker Diego Valeri does look good, doesn’t he?

(MORE: Cascadia Cup leaves Seattle no time to dwell on history)

MLS on NBC makes its 2013 debut when Arlo White and Kyle Martino call New York Red Bulls against D.C. United at 12:30 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network carries two contests after that (Sporting KC vs. Chicago Fire, then Seattle vs. Portland). In between, “The Breakaway” will show goals from foursome of matches NBC is not carrying.

ProSoccerTalk’s series of Rivalry Week back stories:

Latest Posts
  1. LIVE – Premier League at the half: Chelsea, Everton, Burnley lead; City even with Swansea

    Nov 22, 2014, 10:59 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Here’s your roundup of the six games that kicked off at 10 a.m. ET.

  2. Watch Live: Leicester City vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:45 AM EST

    Leicester City v Werder Bremen - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    Can the Foxes half their alarming slide as the Black Cats roll into town? Watch live, here.

  3. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Queens Park Rangers (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:41 AM EST

    QPR's stable of stars has struggled in recent weeks. Can they pull it together and snatch an automatic promotion spot? Getty Images

    QPR is in the Premier League and needs at least a point to get out, while Newcastle is two points back of the Top Four.

  4. Watch Live: Manchester City vs. Swansea City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:35 AM EST

    Manchester City v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    City is off the pace to win the league thanks to taking four points from its last available nine, the lone win coming in the Manchester Derby.

  5. Watch Live: Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    The Baggies took a point from Chelsea in both match-ups last seasons, and has a win against Chelsea in each of the two seasons before that.

  6. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Burnley (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:25 AM EST

    Stoke City v West Ham United - Premier League Getty Images

    Can the Clarets win a second-straight game? Watch live, right here.

  7. Watch Live: Everton vs. West Ham United (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:13 AM EST

    FC Krasnodar v Everton FC - UEFA Europa League Getty Images

    Will the Toffees continue their good form over the Hammers? Watch live, here.

  8. Raheem Sterling eager to commit future to Liverpool

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:05 AM EST

    SterlingRodgers Getty Images

    Sterling says he is “happy to play for Liverpool for many years to come.”

  9. Arsene Wenger suggests Thierry Henry could return to Arsenal as a coach

    Nov 22, 2014, 8:15 AM EST

    Arsenal Training Session Arsenal Training Session

    Wenger: “I welcome people who have played for us to come back but not for just an honorary job.”

  10. WATCH: Premier League online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 12

    Nov 22, 2014, 7:18 AM EST

    Live Extra

    How and where to watch every single PL game from Week 12 live online or via the app.

  11. Inside Look: Not much separating Red Bulls, Revolution ahead of Eastern Conference Championship, leg 1

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:45 PM EST

    Thierry Henry, Ambroise Oyongo Thierry Henry, Ambroise Oyongo

    You could try to use the Red Bulls’ 2014 season to make inferences about what will happen Sunday against the Revs, but it’d be a huge waste of your time.

  12. VIDEO: LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane likes to show off, lob dead balls at moving cart

    Nov 21, 2014, 10:30 PM EST

    Robbie Keane Robbie Keane

    Go ahead and try to be as good as Robbie Keane. Give it your best shot. Good luck, you’re going to need it.

  13. Spanish court comes to senses, lifts Real Madrid reserve manager Zinedine Zidane’s coaching ban

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:20 PM EST

    FBL-ESP-LIGAB-REALMADRID-ZIDANE FBL-ESP-LIGAB-REALMADRID-ZIDANE

    Zinedine Zidane can return to coaching after his nonsensical coaching suspension was lifted on Friday. Perhaps “qualified” needs redefining.

  14. VIDEO: Louis van Gaal calls Wayne Rooney “not a typical striker,” praises versatility ahead of Arsenal showdown

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:00 PM EST

    Manchester United Press Conference Manchester United Press Conference

    Louis van Gaal has called Wayne Rooney “not a typical striker,” but a “fantastic player” nonetheless before Arsenal showdown.

  15. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 12

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:30 PM EST

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game in Week 12.

  16. Inside Look: LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders to square off in Western Conference Championship, leg 1

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:15 PM EST

    Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Jaime Penedo Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Jaime Penedo

    It’s tempting to look ahead and crown the LA Galaxy MLS Cup champions already. A word of warning: Don’t do it at the Sounders’ expense.

  17. MLS Cup Playoffs Preview: Red Bulls vs. Revolution, Galaxy vs. Sounders in Conference Championship first legs

    Nov 21, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy

    The 2014 season is nearly finished, as the MLS Cup Playoffs resume this weekend. A few facts and stats to excite ahead of Sunday’s action.

  18. Jermaine Jones hears all the New England Revolution’s haters, thanks them for their motivation

    Nov 21, 2014, 4:45 PM EST

    Bernardo Anor, Jermaine Jones — AP AP

    Dear haters: Jermaine hears you, is not bothered by you and still loves you. Look out, Red Bulls.

  19. MLS: Orlando City coach Adrian Heath signs extension through 2017

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:10 PM EST

    Orlando_City_2014.svg

    The English-born coach has had big success in Orlando since the club began play in 2011, winning the regular season title in three of four seasons.

  20. Vancouver announces USL PRO team, expansion of training facilities

    Nov 21, 2014, 2:20 PM EST

    Whitecaps FC2

    Whitecaps FC 2 will compete in metro Vancouver at Thunderbird Stadium inside of the University of British Columbia.

Featured video

Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United