If you watch any MLS soccer at all*, you probably know to have your TV on for this game. Heck, you might even have your DVR set. Not only are Portland and Seattle rivals in hipster-ness, quality of beer, and good food, but they are some of the most storied rivals in American soccer history. It goes all the way back to the original NASL incarnations of these teams, when Seattle won against Portland in the Timbers’ inaugural match. Ever since then, these teams have had a serious bone to pick with each other.
What to watch for
Tifo. This rivalry has a history of being truly incredible, and this match should be no exception. From Portland’s “there’s no place like home” with Seattle burning in the background, to Seattle’s “decades of dominance” reminding Portland of the small, painful nuances of the rivalry, expect amazing tifo from both sides. Typically they are limited to one tifo per site for these larger games so the displays don’t get out of hand, but that one tifo should be memorable for years to come. Both groups are famous for their artistry.
Supporters. With incredible tifo comes energetic supporters. Emerald City Supporters on one side fight for the Sounders, and Timbers Army back the Portland side. Each group has their own chants, drums, and energy. They stand for the whole match to support their team, because every noise they make, every chant they shout, and everything they do has the power to energize the players on the field.
History. These teams have been going at it since 1974. This rivalry runs deep in the blood of the Pacific Northwest. It survived being shut down for years between different iterations of Timbers and Sounders teams. It has survived different team names (FC Seattle/Portland, Storm). It has survived the test of time and different people/generations in the stands. Players, stars, coaches, and owners have ebbed and flowed. Seattle’s home has changed, from the Kingdome to Qwest/CenturyLink Field, and Providence Park has seen centuries and renovations. However, one thing has remained constant — the love of the supporters and fans for their teams and their cities, regardless of the name on the jersey, the people on the field, or the venue.
Preparing for the game
This is their second MLS meeting this season – they met last week in a heated USOC match. You may remember it — Clint Dempsey ripped up the ref’s notebook and threw it away? He not only received a suspension for the USOC for six USOC matches or two years (whichever is greater), but he also received a three-match MLS suspension.
The third match of that suspension is this one, so unfortunately for the Sounders, Dempsey will not be on the pitch today, but he will be available for the US in Gold Cup competition. Liam Ridgewell will also be out of the competition for the Timbers, which is a huge blow because he is almost certainly their best defender, if not one of the best in the league. Not only was Clint Dempsey suspended in that USOC match, but Obafemi Martins was injured, and will be out 3-6 weeks. This leaves Seattle without two of their best strikers for an important match against their rivals.
All time, the series of 90 games has Seattle winning 46 times, Portland winning 32 times, and 12 draws. With everything on the line today, this could turn out an interesting battle.
*If you don’t watch MLS, this game would be a great place to start. Seriously.