The MLS era of the Cascadia Cup began early in the 2011 season. On May 14, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers met for the first time in MLS play at a rain-soaked then-Qwest Field with more than 36,000 in attendance.
This is Auburn vs. Alabama, Red Sox vs. Yankees, Redskins vs. Cowboys, Hatfields vs. McCoys.
Though the MLS era of this derby began in 2011, it goes back much much further and has been incredibly contentious. In the MLS era, the Sounders have had the upper hand with a record of 5-2-4, but that record does not explain knock-down, drag-out combativeness of each game.
Record crowds, angry chants, countless red card bookings, last second heroics, and intentional running up of the score have littered these games. Much of this has to do with the over 40 year old history of these two teams.
In the early 2000’s the Timbers vs. Sounders games would routinely sell over 10k seats to rabid fans. Keep in mind, that during this period, the rivals were neither members of the MLS. The rivals would combat each other at the levels of minor league soccer (the USL and A-League).
Though the rivalry was on hiatus for parts of the 90s, it is generally the storied rvialry from a previous generation from 1975-1982 in the NASL that links these two teams.
There was 1975, when a Timbers goal erupted within much of the crowd of 31,000 who packed Civic Stadium stormed the pitch in raucous fashion. In was the highlight of the team’s inaugural NASL season that ended in the Soccer Bowl and a 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Vengeance would be the Sounders in 1977, when more than 25,000 spilled into the Kingdome to watch Clyde Best scores two early goals and Jimmy Gabriel score the winner to give the Sounders the win.
It was Seattle’s first win of the season – and what a season it turned out to be. Their 1977 campaign culminated in a trip to the NASL Soccer Bowl, losing to the Pelé-led New York Cosmos in the Brazilian legend’s final game as a professional.
On June 30, 1979, Seattle defeats Portland 5–1 in the Kingdome in front of a season high 34,000 spectators. Until the 1980s, it would stand as the largest victory in the derby, and to this date, is the largest victory by either side in the top tier of American soccer. In the 5–1 victory, Seattle’s Derek Smethurst netted a hat trick.
At the end of the 1982 North American Soccer League season, the Portland Timbers franchise was forced to fold, once team expenditures outpaced club income. Consequently, the 1–0 Sounders victory over the Timbers on August 22, 1982 ended up being the final meeting between the two sides in the North American Soccer League. It would not be for nearly 30 years, in 2011, the two sides would meet against one another in the top flight of American soccer.
On July 1, 2009, Seattle eliminates Portland 2–1 before a sold-out PGE Park crowd in the US Open Cup. Roger Levesque — a player Portland fans have had a particular dislike for — scored Seattle’s first goal within the opening minute. Levesque completed a goal celebration, in which he stood still at the top of the Timbers penalty area while Nate Jaqua pretended to chop him down like a tree, ending with Levesque falling flat on his back.
In 2013, it would be the Timbers who would get a laugh in defeating the Sounders in the MLS playoffs in a 5-3 aggregate score, leading to bragging rights for the rest of the year for the neighbors to the south.
So far, in its entirety, it is the Sounders who have had the greater sum of the pomp and circumstance with an All-time series record of 46–32–10, as well as, 1 Supporters Sheild, countless attendance records, and 5 straight MLS playoff appearances.