For the most part, the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps have had a good-natured little rivalry – at least compared to the intensity of the Sounders’ meetings with the Portland Timbers.
But that might be changing.
It certainly will if there’s truth to the old saying about familiarity building contempt. The Sounders and Whitecaps met Saturday in their second MLS pairing of the season. They’ll have a rematch at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Vancouver – this time the CONCACAF Champions League opener for both teams. Then they’ll meet again Sept. 19 in league play and Sept. 23 to resolve CCL group play.
"Guys get under each other’s skin a little bit more because they remember that they got kicked in the last game by this guy and things like that," coach Sigi Schmid said. "… Those things are things that players will remember when you play back-to-back in a series that’s tight."
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That’s not all the Sounders will remember. There also was the 3-0 home defeat, which stretched their losing streak to four straight and seven of their last eight.
And maybe most of all, there was the Whitecaps’ on-field celebration that several Sounders said included picture taking and personal taunts.
"If you take a team picture like you just won a trophy on your enemy’s field, I take that personally," goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. "Or if someone comes up to me and tells me I had a good game and laughs in my face, I take that personally. … Some images are going to stay in my mind. Some things ticked me off: the way they were celebrating this victory. And I think other players on this team should take that to heart as well, and have that spur them on even more; because we have the chance to go up to their place on Wednesday and do the same thing that they just did to us."
The Whitecaps’ weekend win moved them to the top of the MLS Western Conference standings as well as the Cascadia Cup race.
The Wednesday meeting could give someone an early advantage in the CCL group, which also includes CD Olimpia of Honduras. The group stage is a four-game, home-and-road round-robin with only the top finisher advancing to the knockout rounds.
Seattle central defender Brad Evans figures turnabout is the best payback.
"Any team in a derby game is going to celebrate," he said. "… That’s the way it is, that’s how things go. If we want to add fuel to the fire, guys put in into the memory bank and when we win there Wednesday night we do the same thing."