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Why I Think A Sounders Vs Timbers Soccer Rivalry Is A Big Deal
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Why I Think A Sounders Vs Timbers Soccer Rivalry is A Big Deal

I never much watched or even cared about soccer rivalries until our kids got involved in rec soccer teams and then during the Summer Olympics Games I finally began to understand it better. As a teacher I watched many a game with my students and saw the benefits of team building and working together in a sport that can feature many kids. When Major League Soccer took off in popularity after some successful Olympic Games and the most recent World Cup, I started to pay more attention.

I was intrigued by the Sounders vs Timber rivalry because although the Sounders have done well coming in second to the Galaxy, the Timbers are still working on building status in the MLS, so what was the big deal about these games? I did not realize the extent of popularity of MLS soccer in certain areas. I know there are key games, like when the Galaxy comes to town that are a draw, but when I read about the intensity of the supporter groups with these two teams I was amazed and our of curiosity looked into it some more. It mirrors the intensity found in the English Priemier League derbies.

The Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers rivalry really goes back to the North American Soccer League (NASL) years when they first played each other in May of 1975. The rivalry continued through other leagues and heated up again in 2001 with the A-League/USL programs. N ow both teams are active in the Major League Soccer(MSL) which seems to have taken hold in the USA.

Here are the reasons I feel the Sounders vs Timbers rivalry is such a big deal.

First, the location in the Pacific Northwests kind of isolates them from the rest of the country. It is easy to get back and forth between them. In fact you can include Vanouver (BC) in the mix as they have a three way local derby competition going.

Second is they are not in professional sports super outlets. This is not to say that the Mariners, Seahawks and Trail Blazers are not worthy, but they come in and out of the limelight, and most importantly Portland and Seattle do not have a team in the same sport, so soccer can drum up fan support. It should be said, in all fairness that the rivalry between the two cities does carry over to college sports and the Washington Huskies and Oregon Ducks

Third, this is a rivalry that has built up over time. This is usually one of the best reasons for a good rivalry to get going that is not two teams in the same city like the White Sox and Cubs or Jets and Giants, or this season the Lakers and Clippers has really heated up. Soccer has been around the area for many years and with both teams now in MSL, they can keep it going.

Fourth, the supporter groups are avid for each team and keep the interest up all year long with blogs and forums. Portland has the Timber Army and Seattle the Emerald City Supporters. Both groups will go back and forth to games so tickets to Sounders vs Timbers games are sold out long before the game date comes.

Finally, players transferring between the teams, including Vancouver in this mix, add a little on-field rivalry as former teammates battle each other on field while the fans go nuts in the stands.

It would be nice to see the same kind of passion build up in other cities. The NY Red Bulls and New England Revolution have started to get a thing going as well as the two Texas teams, Houston Dynamo and Dallas FC and of course the California teams have a rivalry going no matter what sport it is. But Seattle soccer and Portland Timbers MLS rivalry is the top of the pack for now. They play three games in the newest Seattle Sounders Portland Timbers schedule, so you can be sure these games will be televised nationally.


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