David Falk has followed soccer in the Puget Sound region since 1974. This blog covers Sounders FC, local college soccer, Seattle Wolves FC, Tacoma Tide FC and Kitsap Pumas. Send tips or comments to: goalseattle@gmail.com
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Seattle Soccer Examiner

Seattle Soccer Examiner

Thursday, May 8, 2008

New Cascadian Century

As we count down the days to the Sounders' 2008 home opener at Qwest Field against the Portland Timbers on Saturday, I'll be blogging about moments in the history of the derby. This is entry #4.
(See #3 here) (See #2 here) (See #1 here).

Sounders knock PDX out of 2007 US Open Cup.
(Jenni Conner)

In 2001 the Portland Timbers joined up with the Seattle Sounders in what was then called the A-League. Seattle had already been playing in the circuit since 1994, winning league championships in 1995 and 1996.

Just like in the NASL, the Timbers' first-ever home league match was against the Seattle Sounders, at now-called PGE Park. This time Portland got it right, winning 2-0 over Seattle before over 12,000 fans.

It takes something to brag about on both sides for a rivalry to really get heated, and both sides in this derby have ample ammunition. Seattle can boast about the 2004 and 2005 seasons when they knocked Portland out of the playoffs both times on their way to the league final. (See video highlights of those two playoff encounters here.)

Darren Sawatzky talks about his assist on Melo's 2004 playoff heart breaker for Portland.

The 2004 season saw the Timbers have a marvelous year, topping the table. Seattle finished 9th overall in the league but qualified for the playoffs due to division placing. Portland took a 2-1 lead into Qwest Field after a first-leg win in the Rose City. Their dream campaign came crashing down when Welton Melo scored in overtime to lift Seattle 3-2 on aggregate. The Sounders eventually also beat their other main rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps, to travel to Montreal for the league final. Seattle lost the title 2-0.

In 2005 the two rivals again met up in the playoffs' first round. This time early goals by Seattle's Roger Levesque in both legs were enough for a 3-0 aggregate Seattle advancement. The Sounders would continue on and claim the 2005 league crown.

In 2004 supporters in Portland, Vancouver and Seattle started the Cascadia Cup. 2008 will mark the last season of the cup as it now stands. Vancouver won the cup in 2004 and 2005. Seattle has won it in 2006 and 2007. Portland leads the 2008 race after whipping the Sounders 2-0 in Portland in late April.

The Timbers and Sounders have also knocked each other out of the US Open Cup in recent years, and this seems the most-likely way the two will meet up when Seattle goes to MLS.

Portland Timbers have a larger fan base than Seattle with rowdy supporters groups and a great atmosphere at their home park. Fans in the Rose City take great pride in having the top support between the two cities. In 2007 the Sounders averaged about 3,600 fans per home match while Portland were drawing well over 6,000.

Having been around for all incarnations of the Seattle-Portland derby I can safely say that it has never been hotter, more emotional, or more hotly contested by quality players, good coaches, willing owners and passionate fans. Portland and Seattle fans agree on only one thing in this derby: it is the best going in American soccer today.

Tomorrow I'll be guest-blogging from Bob Kellett's Timbers Offsides blog. In that blog I'll have a special video message from Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer! (Bob will be guest-blogging here!)


  1. *cough* first place *cough*

  2. *cough* It's May *cough* ;)

  3. Hey, just wanted to say this was a great write up. Pretty level which has to be hard being a fan of one of these teams. See you guys at your place on the 10th. Hopefully all animosity can be left on the pitch (with the boys from the south claiming the win) and King county letting us all watch in a controlled chaos. Cheers!

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