Cascadia Cup: Odyssey, or Ought to See?
by Ryan Sales
Cascadia’s rivalry Cup has a nomadic lifestyle. Triangulating its way through the Pacific Northwest.
With only a trifecta of options for annual room and board between Portland, Seattle, or Vancouver. Its residence is currently in the Rose City (Portland).
Full Cascadia Cup Coverage:
This is “Rivalry Week”.
The start of another quest for who has the honor to house such a cynical, braggadocio, but beloved guest.
But Cascadia is not the only US Soccer rivalry with rights of tradition and pride on the line.
Major League Soccer is featuring Rivalry Week.
Nine rivalry matches will happen this weekend. For many MLS fans, the Cascadia Cup’s residence is not as critical as their own stake in winning some weekend pride.
Champions League, Supporters Shield, and MLS Cup hold higher rank for most fans outside Cascadia.
But the Northwest rivalry still draws the largest fan base, along with growing television ratings.
NBC & NBC Sports has caught on to the emotion, passion, and colorful tifo displays of Cascadia. Using that as a backdrop and inspiration for promoting this unique weekend of rivalries across Major League Soccer.
Portland travels to CenturyLink Field Saturday where the Seattle Sounders host as Major League Soccer’s reigning attendance leader since 2009.
For the first time in 80 meetings between the I-5 rivals, dating to 1975, a unique point of agreement has been forged. Players, coaches, and supporters of both clubs are rejoicing over not having to face Impact de Montreal.
On the opening weekend of the 2013 season Montreal traveled to Seattle, silencing 38,000 fans with a stifling 1-nil victory on the strength of Davy Arnaud’s cheeky chip over Michael Gspurning. This was Arnaud’s second game-winning goal at CenturyLink Field. His first was with the Kansas City Wizards in 2009 which was Sounders FC’s first MLS loss.
If Arnaud played for either Vancouver or Portland, he would be to the Sounders who Roger Levesque is to the Timbers. The most hated of Cascadia rivalry players.
Any delight Timbers fans felt towards Seattle’s suffering in the opening weekend, were soured when served the same Montreal misery in the second weekend.
Caleb Porter, Portland’s new manager, made a satisfying debut in the Timbers opening weekend match against the New York Red Bulls, inspiring a comeback after trailing 3-1. They were able to pull two goals back to earn a draw. Had the referee held off blowing the final whistle, the Red Bulls likely would have conceded a winning goal to the Timbers.
Diego Valeri made the opening season Jeld Wen crowd erupt with a 14th minute multi-move volley to equalize the Red Bulls 9th minute 1-nil lead. His debut along with Porters could be a sign of improvement for the Timbers over last season.
With the excitement of Valeri’s stunning first MLS goal, and the thrilling comeback, Timbers fans expected no less against Montreal. But the joy of shaking off opening season jitters, along with introducing a new manager and players, the Timbers may have been distracted from taking notice of the Impact on the Sounders.
While Sounders FC outshot Montreal 15-9, only three were on target. For the most part the Sounders attack was too direct and was easy for Montreal’s compact, and organized defense to keep in front of them.
The Sounders were unable to penetrate the Impact’s defense enough to force Troy Perkins off his line. DeAndre Yedlin added speed and excitement but the finishing touch was not there for the Sounders in the opening weekend.
The warning was not heard in Portland.
The organized and compact defensive approach of Montreal kept Portland from finishing early chances. In the 30th minute, Hassoun Camara made a tidy example of what it means to make the most of your chances, striking a bicycle kick past Donovan Ricketts. The Impact never looked back and left their two-week Cascadia tour, having met their bag limit of six points from two wins.
Silence is not something CenturyLink and Jeld Wen are known for with thousands of square feet of brilliantly designed, colorfully displayed tifo unveiling team passion overlays simultaneous chants, accented with waving flags, and rising smoke.
A Cascadia Impact was left by Montreal. It’s an early season conversation starter, but Montreal look for real. So with rivalry weekend nearing zero hour, the best way to solve a problem you don’t understand, is to argue about something you know too much about.
Zach Scott is the player with the most tenure. Eddie Johnson made a lasting impression in his first year in Cascadia, scoring four goals. Donovan Ricketts has been a thorn in the Sounders’ sides since their inaugural season when he was with LA Galaxy. Darlington Nagbe is all too ready to make the kind of impression Johnson did last year.
There is interesting discussion in the contrast and comparison of both coaches. The experienced champion, and statesman-like character of Sigi Schmid versus the rookie MLS coach in Caleb Porter. But like Sigi, Porter is rising up from a successful college coaching background.
Could Sigi be what Porter will become? Only time knows. But you can start another round on that topic.
Montreal doesn’t even exist in the never-ending filibuster that is Cascadia supporters’ conversations. Whose beer is better, whose players are most hated, and who remembers the 70’s and 80’s?
It’s rivalry week in Cascadia. So lineup questions, formations, defending, poor finishing, and various other critical issues are to be to resolved before the playoffs can even be discussed, and are allowed to be forgotten to remember the minutia of rivalry disdain both clubs feel for one another.
It’s not Merseyside. or El Clásico, but it is the biggest rivalry in MLS. DC United and New York is the oldest MLS rivalry but the two Cascadia clubs have been battling since the days of the former NASL.
Supporters coordinate upwards of 15 buses to make the journey. Players, like Zach Scott, would do nothing short of saying he’d have “ran through a wall to get on the field” in last year’s derby where 60,000 showed up in Seattle.
That is a sentiment shared by each clubs players and fans alike.
Rivalry weekend in Major League Soccer is a great way to see both an increased quality in the game being played, and growing fan interest. That NBC and NBC Sports are devoting nearly ten hours of coverage also shows “weekend match day” is slowly becoming an event to see and participate in as it has for generations in England.
While most MLS fans won’t be concerned if the Cascadia Cup’s scrapbook is filled with pictures in the Rose Garden, atop the Space Needle, or a walk in Stanley Park, the drums and chants of Cascadia will sound loudest.
And who knows, one club could find inspiration to fuel a marathon season concluding in lifting a more recognized MLS Cup. Or the other club could taste the first thrill of a playoff run. Or more likely, a brilliant run of play will yield to yellow caution, and pitch antics, settling the loudest stadium’s roar to a mutually acceptable 1-1, or 2-2 draw.
Any way you look at it, it’s a good cup to drink from.
Obafemi Martins in Seattle