It has been called American soccer’s most storied rivalry.
When the Seattle Sounders face the host Portland Timbers on Sunday afternoon at Providence Park, it will be the 100th meeting between the teams dating to 1975, when both were members of the old North American Soccer League.
The rivalry continued in the United Soccer League and now in MLS.
Even MLS commissioner Don Garber weighed in before the match.
“Soccer is driven by intense rivalries, and the Sounders-Timbers rivalry is among the best in all of professional sports,” Garber told USA Today. “Two great clubs, two stadiums packed with passionate fans — the rivalry between Seattle and Portland has been an important driver in the success of our league and has been a model for others that have followed. There’s really nothing quite like a Sounders-Timbers match.”
The Sounders set up a website to mark the historic meeting, highlighting mostly Seattle victories.
The Timbers responded with a mockumentary, poking fun at Seattle traffic, the city’s loss of the NBA’s SuperSonics and forward Clint Dempsey’s rapping skills. It also noted how the Timbers won the MLS Cup in 2015, before the Sounders the next year.
The Sounders lead the all-time series 50-35-14, including 9-5-6 in MLS play.
“We’ve been building exactly for these type of matches,” said coach Giovanni Savarese, whose Timbers (3-3-2) have won three in a row. “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.”
It will be Savarese’s first Sounders-Timbers rivalry match.
“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.”
The injury-plagued Sounders (2-4-2) have gotten off to a slow start, but are coming off a 2-1 victory at Toronto FC on Wednesday in a rematch of the past two MLS Cups.
“I would say this club is always a proud club, we always fight, we never give up,” said Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer, who played for Seattle in the NASL and coached the city’s USL squad. “Results like (Wednesday’s) come from that mentality, that type of mindset. It is within our club. It’s been like that since (former goalkeeper) Kasey Keller has been here in ‘09 and that will always be here.”
—Field Level Media