Five days and counting until the first Seattle Sounders-Portland Timbers meeting as MLS clubs. Kickoff is 8 p.m. Saturday at Qwest Field and with an ESPN2 audience watching the rebirth of a great rivalry.
The Sounders have a rare late-afternoon practice today, so I won't have any direct news or quotes until after that. But meanwhile, here's some of the rivalry information put out by the club:
The final countdown has begun as one of North America's most colorful and contentious rivalry begins a new era. Seattle Sounders FC hosts the Portland Timbers for the first time in MLS play on Saturday night before a capacity crowd and a national audience on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. First kick is 8 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.
Both Sounders FC (3-3-4, 13 points) and the Timbers (4-3-1, 13 points) are showing solid form of late with the Rave Green having lost only once in the last eight matches and Portland has won four of its last five.
Seattle is seeking its third straight home win as it begins a three-match home stand. Last week Sounders FC sustained its first loss in seven games, 2-1 at D.C. United, but rebounded to split the points against the Columbus Crew, 1-1.
While this represents the initial meeting between Seattle and Portland in MLS play, it will be the 75th clash between professional clubs representing the two Pacific Northwest cities-a series which dates back three leagues and 36 years. The Sounders and Timbers of the North American Soccer League first met on May 2, 1975.
More recently, Sounders FC crossed paths with Portland the past two seasons in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. Seattle eliminated its neighbors on both occasions en route to lifting the cup upon winning America's most historic tournament.
Sounders FC won, 2-1, at Portland in 2009 and advanced on penalties following a 1-1 draw last year in the Rose City. There will be no such cup collision this time around; the Timbers were eliminated by San Jose, 1-0, last week in a second-round MLS play-in.
Saturday is also the first of four Cascadia Cup fixtures for both teams. The three-team competition also includes Vancouver Whitecaps FC and is organized by the clubs' supporters groups.
Portland has caught fire at home, winning all four matches at JELD-WEN Field. That includes 1-nil wins over previously unbeaten Real Salt Lake and fast-starting Philadelphia. However, it's been another matter on the road, going 0-3-1 while being outscored 9-2.
Arlo White will call Saturday's match on 97.3 KIRO FM. The Rave Green visits Portland on July 10, with that match also televised by ESPN2.
Seattle will play two MLS Reserve League matches at home this week, both at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila, Wash. Chivas USA plays Sounders FC on Monday night at 7 p.m. PT and the Timbers reserves arrive next Sunday at 1 p.m. PT.
Next week Seattle hosts Sporting Kansas City on May 21 at 7 p.m. PT. Defending Western Conference champion FC Dallas visits on May 25. Tickets for all Sounders FC home matches are available at www.SoundersFC.com or by calling 877-MLS-GOAL.
Rivalry Dates to 1975
Saturday night will mark the 75th meeting between Seattle and Portland teams in league or cup play since the Sounders and Timbers first collided on May 2, 1975 in Portland's inaugural North American Soccer League match. The rivalry was rapidly stoked by fierce battles and rabid fans, resulting in big crowds toward the end of that first season.
Following the demise of the Timbers in 1982, Western Soccer League teams from both cities met from 1985-90. Soon after the Timbers joined the USL First Division in 2001, supporters groups from Seattle, Portland and Vancouver founded the Cascadia Cup, a three-way competition to determine Pacific Northwest supremacy amongst the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps.
Seattle vs. Portland Series
1975-82 NASL Sounders 13 wins; Timbers 8 wins
1985-90 WSL FC Seattle 5 wins; FC Portland/Timbers 6 wins; 2 draws
2001-08 USL-1* Sounders 20 wins; Timbers 13 wins; 5 draws
2009-10 U.S. Open Cup Sounders FC 1 win; Timbers 0 wins; 1 draw
Totals 74 matches played: Seattle 39 wins, Portland 27 wins; 8 draws
Keller Knows Both SidesSeattle captain Kasey Keller returned for his 20th and final professional season partly because of his desire to experience the Sounders FC-Timbers rivalry. Keller played in both Open Cup meetings with Portland, however he also played in the Rose City. During four seasons at the University of Portland the then-shaggy keeper helped lead the Pilots to the NCAA semifinals and, in the summer of 1989, played for the Timbers and was voted the MVP of the Western Soccer League.
Keller starred in last Saturday's draw at Columbus. Facing 13 shots by the Crew in the second half, he allowed only a penalty and saved five, including a dipping free kick by Andres Mendoza during stoppage time. Keller's 65 consecutive starts dates to April 25, 2009 and is the longest active streak in MLS.
Meanwhile, the Emerald City Supporters have released this information about a block party they plan for Saturday:
The Emerald City Supporters, with their partner, Fuel Sports Bar, will host the Brougham Block Party this Saturday, May 14th to celebrate the first MLS Cascadia Derby match between the Seattle Sounders FC and Portland Timbers. Located at the corner of Occidental Avenue and South Washington Street, this 21+ event will feature a large outdoor beer garden, food and full bar with drink specials, ECS membership and merchandise tables, and raucous chants and songs led by ECS capos. Festivities begin at 2 p.m. and all Sounders fans (21 and over) are encouraged to stop by, mingle ... eat, drink and sing for our boys.
The Emerald City Supporters (ECS) is the largest independent supporters group of Seattle Sounders FC, and can be found at the Brougham End of Qwest Field (Sections 121, 122, and 123) during every Sounders home match.
The Brougham Block Party is made possible by Fuel Sports Bar with thanks to Impark.