The Sounders and Timbers won't only compete on the pitch. And after their opening game at Jeld-Wen Field tonight, the Timbers upped the supporters' rivalry by claiming tonight to have been the best soccer atmosphere not only in MLS but ever in American soccer.
"I don’t think you see an atmosphere like that in American soccer history – ever," coach John Spencer said. "I think it was tremendous. We came out in warm-up and I thought it was electrifying. It was pretty incredible. Me and the staff were talking and just saying this doesn’t feel like the U.S. – no disrespect to anybody – this feels like a Champions League game.
"I thought the atmosphere before the game – during the national anthem and stuff – I haven’t seen that in American soccer to be honest with you. It was tremendous."
Spencer went on to expand his praise even beyond the U.S., saying that this crowd would compete with anything in the Scottish Premier League aside from Celtic and Rangers ... even with all but the biggest clubs of the EPL.
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Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury said this was the best crowd he's seen -- and heard -- in his nine seasons of Major League Soccer.
"It unbelievable," he said, when I asked for a direct comparison with Sounders crowds. "Obviously I probably have some favoritism here, but for me it’s the best crowd I’ve played in front of in MLS. The Timbers Army: unbelievable the whole game. Like I said, even when (Chicago) got two goals back it seemed like they got louder. It was unbelievable. I knew it was going to be something special, but I didn’t even expect something like that. You know Seattle’s great, don’t get me wrong, but tonight was an unbelievable atmosphere that they created and spurred us on to a big three points that we needed."
The attendance was 18,627 -- which is roughly half of what the Sounders draw at Qwest Field. However, Jewsbury said he has heard the architecture of the stadium -- and maybe especially the enclosed, wrapping and steep north end of the Timbers Army -- amplifies the sound.
"From what I’ve heard even before the game they said (with the pitch) below ground level the sound just kind of reverberates," he said. "Boy you can hear it once everybody gets going. It was special."
Here's more on the stadium from the Timbers' website.