As often happens in this type of story, I ended up with more leftover quotes in my pocket than ones used in the story. Here are a few that might be of interest:
BOB LENARDUZZI, Whitecaps FC presidentIs Toronto the bigger rival than Seattle:No, I would flip that I would think. We have such a history with the Sounders. I was fortunate enough to be a player in the original era, and I can remember back to 1974 when we played at Memorial Stadium right by the Space Needle and they were cramming 17,000-18,000 people into that spot. It was a fantastic atmosphere. And then over the years, hosting the Sounders in Vancouver and having a number of the Sounders fans come up and vice versa the other way, that was always a fixture that our think both our staff and our fans looked for once the schedule was released.
What did you think of the Seattle-Portland game?I wasn’t there but I watched the game, and it was fantastic. You could sense the atmosphere even though you were there live. And I saw this morning the tribute that they did, and I was just in awe of that. … It was stunning. So hats off to them for that. … To me everything that’s going on right now is what it should be.
Your franchise seems off to a good start everywhere but on the field. How's the future look?There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’re relevant now. The Whitecaps are relevant in the marketplace. We need to make sure that we don’t take the season-ticket base and the fans for granted. We’re going through a tough spell in terms of results right now, but they stay with us. … I think it’s a testament to our fans that they’re enjoying what they’re experiencing right now. We have probably a grace period, given that we are an expansion club. But we don’t want to abuse that either. We need to try to turn our on-field performance around, but I think we’ll be given the time to do that.
Sounders assistant BRIAN SCHMETZERWill the Vancouver rivalry be one level down from the one with Portland? "I wouldn't say it's one level down because I remember coaching the USL team and going to Vancouver. I mean that's a foreign country. They're foreigners. We're the United States. We're proud of that, so it was a little bit special because of that. The proximity is the same. And Vancouver-Portland, it's all pretty close. It's all pretty meshed together."
Sounders goalkeeper KASEY KELLER(The only person I spoke to for this story who said Portland will clearly be the bigger rivalry):I think you have that little bit of Canada-USA thing – it’s just not quite the same. I think Vancouer-Toronto, yeah, it’s going to be a great rivalry. In the different places I’ve played at around the world: London has a bunch of teams: You always have those London rivalries, but you always have one that’s your main one. Same when I was in Germany ... And I think that’s what you find with Vancouver. Yeah, that’s a big game, but Portland is the main derby."
Former NASL Sounder JIMMY GABRIEL On having Portland and Vancouver as co-rivals) That was huge. I came here in ’74. Vancouver were playing at that time, and then Portland came in the following year. And it was tremendous. When we played those teams, it was like, oh man, you had to win or die. You had to, jeeze, get ready for it. They were great games because the crowds were so into it and also because the teams were so into it. It was fantastic.
San Jose coach FRANK YALLOPLast week on the atmosphere at Vancouver's temporary Empire FieldGreat. Seeing all the games that have been on TV I’ve been very impressed. It doesn’t look like a temporary stadium to me. Tonight with the weather not being great it wasn’t a full house, but there was a good atmosphere and they got right into the game. Later on, especially when they scored it was very loud. Good atmosphere.
Former Sounder/current Whitecap PETER VAGENASOn whether Seattle or Toronto will be the Whitecaps' bigger rival:"I’ve been trying to figure that out with this whole hockey thing going on. I asked, do people from Toronto cheer for Vancouver? So, I don’t know. Canada’s just foreign to me: the money, the language, everything. I’ll kind of learn that as I go, but I would assume (because) Vancouver and Seattle go way back in soccer rivalries, and I think Vancouver-Toronto will be kind of a newer rivalry, I guess. You’ve got to always err on the side of history. I think Vancouver-Seattle is going to be huge.
On "that whole hockey thing" ... the city's obsession on the Canucks' run for the Stanley Cup:I was trying to get Lakers playoff games at every hotel bar in the city and people looked at me like I was nuts because of (the) Canucks. But that’s great. I saw the same thing in Seattle when the Seahawks played. ... Here the city obviously stops for the Canucks, and I think they’ll get behind the Whitecaps as well.