Sounders Look Towards Battle With Portland

Seattle and Portland ready for the season's first match in the Cascadia Cup rivalry
by Brian Stern   |   Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Singing In The Rain – column on Seattle Sounders (SSFC) & the Seattle area soccer scene.

Hate, as defined by Miriam Webster's Dictionary, is to feel extreme enmity toward something. In the case of the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers fans, hate might be putting it mildly.


These teams flat out do not like each other and the animosity dates back more than 35 years, longer than any other rivalry in MLS. You have seen the Red Sox vs. Yankees, Oklahoma vs. Texas, but one of the best rivalries in sports exists right here in the Pacific Northwest. 


As hard as it might be to believe, in the 1970's more fans came out to watch the Sounders play than their baseball counterparts the Seattle Mariners, where more than 30,000 screaming fans would walk through the gates of the old Kingdome.


While both teams exist in relative proximity – 173 miles from Timbers' JELD-WEN Field to the steps of the Sounders' CenturyLink Field – tensions have been rising over the years and at times boiled over. In 2010, a Timbers fan was reportedly choked and dragged with his Rose City scarf after the Sounders lost 1-0.


If you have been to a Cascadia Cup game, it is clear to see there is no love lost between the two fan bases. There have even been accusations in which CenturyLink Field overseers were encouraged to provoke Timbers fans during last year's October matchup. According to Timbers Army representative Garrett Dittfurth, "It was not pleasant, and this year many people are questioning whether they want to make the trip again."


As some Portland fans see it, Sounders supporters are nothing but coffee-loving, Nirvana-listening, corporate blowhards, who only attend games because tickets are given away for free. As seen by Timbers Army spokesman Dittfurth:


“There is in arrogance in Seattle that we are their little brother, and we are not anymore. In many ways we have surpassed them. In the 90's, they were where the music scene was at, now who is in the NY Times every week? Portland is. We have definitely surpassed Seattle in almost all ways.”


On the other end, Portland fans are envisioned as hippie-know-nothing's who, while acknowledged as having a passionate supporter base, should leave the real supporting to the professionals.


Timbers fans will embark on an all-day journey departing 6 hours prior to kick-off in order to make it in time. The team is expecting upwards of 800 Rose City faithful to board several dozen coach buses and make the day long trek. The number of fans traveling this year is much lower compared to last year, and Dittfurth proposed past experiences as the reason. The Timbers faithful have expressed hesitancy in bringing up a large contingent this year.


When asked about past trips and the perception of Seattle by Portland fans Dittfurth says, "We have never had a good trip to Seattle, there is always something that goes wrong, and last year especially so. “


The Sounders expressed no worries about security and don't expect any issues to arise this year. This game matters, this rivalry matters for Seattle.


During a regular season match, the Sounders might see several hundred show up for the well-known March to the Match, in which fans gather an hour before kickoff and make their way, chanting and singing, along the half-mile walk to CenturyLink Field.


However, last year in October against Portland, an estimated 5,000 people attended. The rivalry between the two clubs has become a way of life for many in the Northwest, and families arrange their schedules to make sure they are able to attend the match. On Saturday night during prime time (NBC Sports Network) the Sounders and 44,000 of their rave green fans will be ready to welcome their rival into the confines of the CenturyLink 


After scoring a golazo goal against Tigres in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals on Tuesday night, Sounder newcomer Djimi Treore, had this to say on the Portland rivalry:


“Everybody has talked to me about them (Portland), it’s a big game, we played against them in the preseason, but it was different, it was a friendly game,” he said. “We look forward to playing against them, and I think tonight we did well to prepare for them. I think the victory gives us lots of confidence to play against Portland and hopefully we will win the game.”


The Sounders have found new life in their offense. After going more than 200 minutes, CenturyLink Field roared to life on Tuesday night as the club delivered 3 goals in less than 30 minutes. All three were impressive in their own right, and Djimi Treore's made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays for the day.


One thing is certain, no love will be lost between both sides on Saturday night, and the chants of, “Where's your trophies?!” will be loud and profuse.


NEXT UP: March 16 – Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers, CenturyLink Field, Seattle. 10 p.m. EST, NBC Sports Network.


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Husband, father, history buff and founder of SoundersNation. Lifelong lover of the game and covers the Seattle Sounders for Soccer Newsday.