The Sounders will travel south on Interstate 5 this weekend for a match in Portland Oregon against the rival Timbers. This Cascadia Cup fixture will be the second meeting between these sides in 2011. The match kicks off at 1 p.m. (PST) and will be televised to a national audience on ESPN. This will be Seattle’s first visit to JELD-WEN Field, but the organization is hardly new to these grounds.
The Sounders and Timbers will clash for the 76th time in the past 36 years. The Pacific Northwest rivalry has spanned four decades through four different leagues. The all-time head-to-head sits in Seattle’s favor with 39 wins, 27 loses, and 9 draws. Although, the boys from the Rose City hold bragging rights at home with a 19-16-2 record on their turf. The Sounders and Timbers faced off for the first time ever on May 2nd, 1975.
On May 14th, 2011 these two clubs met for the first time in league play in the past three years. It was a rainy night in Seattle in front of a sellout crowd. The Sounders opened up the scoring in the 52nd minute on a strike from Alvaro Fernandez. The home fans went absolutely nuts celebrating the first Cascadia tally of the MLS era. 18 minutes later a man by the name of “Futty” would use his head to level the score. The game would end in a 1-1 draw with both squads claiming one point.
Although the match lacked the fire and intensity that many fans have come to expect from this rivalry, the support from both sides was stupendous. The Emerald City Supporters spent loads of time and resources to assure the Seattle faithful that when these teams touch the pitch the outcome is important, and has been for many years. An enormous tifo display engulfed the Brougham End from the view deck to the edge of the turf. It spanned across five entire sections and boasted “decades of dominance” over their foes from the south. The entire stadium was in awe and stood at attention with an ovation.
The Timbers Army was up for the challenge. They flooded the visitors section in large numbers as soon as the gate was open. The chanting, flag waiving, and passion never stopped. I have personally never witnessed such support from away MLS fans in my entire life. He support on both sides was non-stop and truly inspirational. I’ve seen this battle many times since 1997, but the sheer volume of noise, fans, supporters and importance has never been matched. The only wish I have for Sunday is better play from both sides, more passion on the field, and the atmosphere to once again be at a fever pitch.
The first leg in Seattle saw these two teams almost dead even in the standings. Both squads were sitting on 13 points and in the middle of the table. Obviously after they tied that on that rainy Saturday in May they remained in a dead heat. Since then they’ve both been streaking in opposite directions. The Sounders have been red-hot tallying 18 more points with a 5-1-3 record and in 3rd place of a tough Western Division. Portland on the other hand has slid down the table in dramatic fashion going 1-5-1 and claiming only four points. These two teams must know that there’s nothing like a good old rivalry game to prove their form or to change their fortunes.
On the field these two teams matchup very well against each other and both have weapons and tactics that could cause worry from the other. The Sounders are a deep and experienced squad that play an entertaining brand of soccer that causes their opponents fits at times. They control possession, and commit numbers into their attack. This leaves them vulnerable to the counter attack especially versus teams that showcase good pace up top. The Timbers have that pace in Jorge Perlaza and Darlington Nagbe. The Seattle defense will have to communicate well and close the gap on all ball carriers quickly to snuff any counter that comes their way. Both teams are very solid in the center of the field, and the matchup of Osvaldo Alonso and Diego Chara will definitely have a lot to do with the outcome of the game. Portland is also very precise on set pieces and has proven they will score from a spot kick. This is not news to Sounders fans, but defending set pieces is not what we’re best at.
Seattle claims “No Equal” while there is “No Pity” from the Portland boys. The ECS will travel many supporters south only to be greeted by the Timbers Army. It’s North versus South. The Emerald City clashes in an epic battle in the Rose City. The city of Seattle tilted against the city of Portland. These two Cascadia Cup clubs clash for round two of the 2011 MLS season. This Sunday, it’s the Sounders traveling to war against the Timbers. You don’t want to miss it!
(image courtesy of soundersfc.com)