Mar 15, 2013, 4:30 PM EST
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.
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.
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!
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?
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:
Dec 4, 2013, 3:32 PM EST
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Dec 4, 2013, 3:30 PM EST
USMNT striker opens the scoring… but Chelsea come roaring back. Watch live:
Dec 4, 2013, 2:50 PM EST
Third place City hope to cure the road woes when they visit The Hawthorns.
Dec 4, 2013, 2:45 PM EST
Former Manchester United assistant Rene Meulensteen will make his managerial debut with Fulham at home against a Spurs squad coming off an energizing draw with Meulensteen’s old club.
Dec 4, 2013, 2:40 PM EST
Two teams drifting in opposition directions meet at the Liberty Stadium, with Newcastle hoping to crack the Premier League’s top four.
Dec 4, 2013, 2:35 PM EST
Can Peter Crouch add to his lone Premier League goal this season for Mark Hughes in front of the home fans?
Dec 4, 2013, 2:30 PM EST
Can the Black Cats beat the Blues at the Stadium of Light? Watch live, right here:
Dec 4, 2013, 2:25 PM EST
Saints seek to get themselves back on track with a victory over a Villa side that’s quite good on the road.
Dec 4, 2013, 2:20 PM EST
Will Norwich manage any surprises against Liverpool?
Dec 4, 2013, 2:16 PM EST
The Gunners are aiming to extend their lead at the top… but an upset could be brewing at the Emirates. Watch live, right here:
Dec 4, 2013, 2:10 PM EST
David Moyes faces former club Everton for the first time since leaving for Manchester United.
Dec 4, 2013, 1:58 PM EST
Who’s heading where, at least for today? Time for a proper transfer rumor roundup.
Dec 4, 2013, 1:00 PM EST
Valeri and Ricketts recipients of MLS awards.
Dec 4, 2013, 12:10 PM EST
Superstar builds museum in first of several planned moves to raise profile of his home region.
Dec 4, 2013, 11:21 AM EST
Rossi + Zidane + family = a golden World Cup ad.
Dec 4, 2013, 10:50 AM EST
What’s the best the USA can hope for Friday’s World Cup draw? Oh, a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
Dec 4, 2013, 10:03 AM EST
MLS Super Draft fans and supporters of the NCAA college game laid their eyes Tuesday on the 30 final names vying for the 2013 MAC Hermann Award as the nation’s top male and female players. It’s a prestigious award that’s gone to names like Reyna, Friedel and Lalas as well as Nagbe, Hamm and Sinclair.…
Dec 4, 2013, 9:38 AM EST
Rodney Marsh not exactly showering praise on current Fulham stars.
Dec 4, 2013, 8:48 AM EST
Oh, mid-week League play, how you move us…
Dec 4, 2013, 7:39 AM EST
After the Belgian striker suggested he could stay at Everton permanently, his Chelsea boss reminds all who makes the decisions. Meanwhile, Spanish reports suggest Tata Martino is watching.
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