The Seattle vs. Portland rivalry is the absolute top competition between any two of clubs in Major League Soccer. The passion of the fans and the level of competition even draws comparisons between rivalries of some top clubs in Europe. I’m not saying this rivalry is on the same level as El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, but there is something to be said about a soccer match in America that brings out over 65,000 people to watch. If you have ever had a chance to even watch one of these games, you will find yourself feeling like you are watching the English Premier League on a Saturday morning. Trust me, the atmosphere is that electric.
The first ever match between Seattle and Portland was back in on May 2, 1975; in the Timbers’ inaugural game. Seattle defeated Portland 1–0 in front of 8,131 at Portland Civic Center. But the rivalry pre-dates the current teams in both cities, back to the North American Soccer League days, and has since grown into one of the largest and most bitter rivalries in American soccer. Alan Hilton, a former English international and ex-Sounders coach, has compared the rivalry to those seen in the EPL. As of now, Seattle leads the all-time series 42-29-9 heading into the 81st meeting between the two clubs this upcoming Sunday. And like I mentioned before, this rivalry goes beyond the two club teams.
The Seattle Super Sonics and the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA had a fierce rivalry before the Super Sonics moved to Oklahoma City a couple of years ago. Even before that, there were the Portland Buckaroos and Seattle Totems of the minor-league Western Hockey League in the 1960s. When you have two great sports towns with awesome fans separated by only 170 miles, you are going to have some sports rivalries develop.
The fans of both teams are as passionate as any in the league and they have truly heightened the ceiling on this derby match. Seattle’s “Emerald City Supporters” and Portland’s “Timbers Army” will be in full force this upcoming Sunday as the two teams square off once again on ESPN. Recent events fueled by some fans have only increased the buzz behind the game.
Major League Soccer fans will remember “The Billboard” incident back in 2011. That sign shown in the image was not located in Portland, but in Seattle and it did not sit well with Sounders fans.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber has openly stated he wants to continue to build regional rivalries and he has definitely found a game to set the bar in the Pacific Northwest between Seattle and Portland.
Sunday will mark one of the biggest games in the history of the rivalry. U.S Men’s National Team star Client Dempsey will be making his home debut for his new club in the most meaningful match of the year against their top rival at home. In addition to that, the Sounders need to string together a couple of wins to even keep them in the race for the playoffs and the same goes for Portland.
Everything is on the line on Sunday for this MLS derby and everyone should be watching. The energy, passion, and noise of the crowd is easily translated through the television into your family rooms and I urge all soccer fans to check out the game. The bar has been MLS fans. Let’s all sit back on Sunday, enjoy the match and then aim to have this kind of support in other markets across the country.