PORTLAND – The salvos were being launched well before Sunday’s rivalry game between the Portland Timbers and the Seattle Sounders.
It will be the 100th meeting between the Pacific Northwest teams, dating back to a rainy May day in 1975 when both teams were in the North American Soccer League.
The Timbers put out a mock-documentary about the rivalry Tuesday, poking fun at Seattle’s traffic, the departure of the SuperSonics and even Clint Dempsey’s ill-fated attempt at rap. It points out that Portland won its MLS Cup before the Sounders got theirs.
Despite the chiding, the Sounders rule the all-time series 50-35-14 across all competitions. There have been many memorable (or notorious) moments, including the U.S. Open Cup match in 2008 when Seattle’s Roger Levesque mimicked chopping down a tree after scoring on Portland’s field, drawing the ire of fans.
Last week’s mockumentary came after the Sounders set up a special (and more serious) website to commemorate the 100th meeting, highlighting mostly Seattle’s triumphs, calling it the “most important soccer rivalry in the U.S.”
Sunday’s match at Providence Park features a pair of teams that had appeared headed in different directions, at least earlier this week.
The Timbers, who went winless in the first five games of the season (all on the road), have won three straight, including last weekend’s 1-0 victory at San Jose.
“We’ve been building exactly for these type of matches,” Portland coach Giovanni Savarese said. “Once you build the mentality, once you build the group that wants to play together, we go (in the game) with an idea. But the important thing is, throughout the match, the guys have to be mature and be able to achieve a good result.”
The Sounders were struggling with just one victory this season, but got a big boost with a 2-1 victory against Toronto on the road Wednesday night. Those teams have met in the MLS Cup finals the past two years.
There’s a twist to this Mother’s Day match: It will not count toward the annual Cascadia Cup competition.
The Cascadia Cup, invented by fans in 2004, goes to the winner of a three-way rivalry with the Vancouver Whitecaps. It is traditionally awarded on points.
But this season the schedule between the three teams is unbalanced. So the Cascadia Cup Council decided in March that this first match between the Sounders and Timbers would not count. Portland is the defending Cascadia Cup champion.
It will be Savarese’s first rivalry match. He joined the Timbers in the offseason after the team parted ways with Caleb Porter.
“For me to have the fortune to be here at this moment, for this game, I’m a lucky person,” Savarese said, “because I understand the importance of the match and I understand the importance for the fans and I understand the importance for our season.”
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