SEATTLE – The opening match of the much-anticipated Major League Soccer rivalry between the Portland Timbers and the Seattle Sounders ended in a 1-all draw Saturday night.
Alvaro Fernandez scored early in the second half for the Sounders, and the Timbers answered with Futty Danso’s header some 13 minutes later.
Fittingly for the Pacific Northwest, the nationally televised match was played in pouring rain. The announced crowd was 36,593, a record for an MLS game at Qwest Field.
It was the first match of the Cascadia Cup competition among the Portland Timbers, the Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Unique because it was created by fans, the award takes on greater significance this season now that all three teams are part of MLS.
The Timbers’ independent supporters’ group, the Timbers Army, took 10 buses the three-hour drive up Interstate 5.
Portland’s fan section was a pie-shaped sliver at the corner of the field. But the Timbers Army was most insulted when mascot Timber Joey was told by security that he couldn’t wield his chainsaw during the match.
“The fact that we can’t have it here is just a little bump,” Timber Joey said after stashing the chainsaw in an “undisclosed location.”
The management of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver agreed to set aside 500 seats for visiting fans for the games this season. Among the stipulations is those fans will be seated in one secured area of the stadium in an attempt to keep any hooliganism from cropping up.
Neon green-clad Seattle fans unfurled massive banners proclaiming “Decades of Dominance” depicting former Sounders players and an image of a fist crushing a Timbers logo.
The Timbers Army had their own, albeit smaller display, which in soccer is known as a tifo. “We’re the Timbers Army. Who are you?” it read.
The rivalry between Portland and Seattle dates to 1975, when both teams were part of the North American Soccer League.
The Sounders came close to scoring in the extra time of the first half, but Fredy Montero’s free kick hit a post and got caught in the side netting.
Montero nearly scored just a minute into the second half with a header from the right corner of the goal that barely missed.
The Sounders finally succeeded with Fernandez’s goal in the 52nd minute that sailed past diving Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
The Timbers evened it in the 65th minute on Danso’s goal. Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller rushed forward to stop Jack Jewsbury’s kick, which Danso headed into the net.
Seattle will visit Portland on July 10. Vancouver travels to Seattle on June 11, with the Sounders going north on Sept. 24. The Whitecaps play at Portland on Aug. 20 and the Timbers become Vancouver’s first opponent at remodeled B.C. Place stadium on Oct. 2.