Passionate fans keep Cascadia Cup alive and well
While Sounders FC players and coaches are still learning about the storied soccer history in the region, the fans are leading the charge heading into Saturday's 8 p.m. match against the Portland Timbers.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Portland @ Sounders FC, 8 p.m., ESPN2
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TUKWILA — Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid would be hard-pressed to pick the Cascadia Cup out of a trophy lineup.
He has never seen it.
The experience couldn't be more different for Keith Hodo, co-president of the Emerald City Supporters. He remembers drinking out of the cup during a 2007 celebration — along with former Sounders goalkeeper Chris Eylander — after Seattle triumphed over Portland and Vancouver in the annual competition among the Pacific Northwest rivals.
Countless fans have similar memories in the hunt for the Cascadia Cup, from breathtaking games to unforgettable road trips up and down Interstate 5.
While the players and coaches of Seattle's third-year MLS franchise are still learning about the storied soccer history in the region, the fans are leading the charge heading into Saturday's 8 p.m. match against the Timbers.
And for what will be another raucous crowd at Qwest Field, a heckuva lot more than three points is on the line.
"It's a lot of bragging rights," said Schmid of the rivalry game's importance to the fans. "It's the ability to walk down the street with a little bit of swagger, a little bit of bounce in your step afterward. It allows you to go afterward and hoist a refreshment and say, 'Hey, that was a lot of fun today.' "
Day by day, especially during this hype-filled rivalry week, Sounders FC newcomers have caught on to the depth of the city's soccer roots. But the team hasn't always embraced its past.
In 2008, the new MLS franchise had a contest to name the team that initially didn't include "Sounders" as an option.
"It's been tough for us in that we've had to be the ones to champion and tie together the history since 1974," Hodo said. "It's nice to see that the club is backing that now. ... When you honor that history, it really brings the community together."
For this regional soccer community, it's all about the Cascadia Cup, a competition created in 2004 by the fans for the fans. Every year the trophy remains with the supporters of the winning team.
And success has been shared over the years, too, with the cup spending nearly even time in the three cities: Vancouver (2004, 2005, 2008), Seattle (2006, 2007) and Portland (2009, 2010).
"This is a rivalry that you don't have to make into a rivalry," said Schmid, referencing others in MLS that seem more manufactured than authentic. "It already exists. ... It's nothing that you have to whip into a frenzy. It's there."
• Sounders FC midfielder Alvaro Fernandez has been called up by the Uruguayan national team for a May 29 friendly against Germany, according to an AP report.
• Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and his Portland counterpart, Sam Adams, have announced a wager over the two-game Sounders-Timbers series. The loser has to wear the other team's scarf for a day, McGinn announced Friday on Twitter.
"Not worried," tweeted McGinn.
"Nothing to worry about ... Green and gold is flattering on you," tweeted Adams in response.
• Special Olympics Washington and Sounders FC have partnered to host Special Olympics Oregon and the Timbers in the inaugural Cascadia Championship Series on Saturday. There will be a 5-on-5 match at 2:30 p.m. at Starfire Sports Complex and a 3-on-3 exhibition in Qwest Field's north lot at 6 p.m. The return leg of the series is July 10 at Jeld-Wen Field.
• Fans are advised that road closures, especially to Highway 99, are expected to impact travel to the stadium.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Each team in the rivalry (Seattle vs. Portland vs. Vancouver) has won the Cascadia Cup at least twice in its seven-year history.|
|* competed only with Vancouver|