That’s a bold statement right? The biggest rivalry in all of professional sports in America. Unfortunately to most, Soccer is a new sport in the United States, so how can I even have the audacity to claim a sport that doesn’t do nearly as well as the other 3 majors in terms of money and attendance has a better rivalry? The thing about soccer that makes it what it is are the fans; “supporters”. Football, basketball, and baseball have fans. Soccer has supporters. So what’s the difference?
Imagine sitting in a football stadium attending a game; you’ll probably see an annoying fan wearing a jersey cheering on the opposing team. If you’ve been to game, you’ve seen this. You probably make fun of them with your friends, maybe tell him to shut the fuck if it gets to that point, but all in all it is what it is. Now imagine being an away supporter walking into Century Link Field (Sounders) or Providence Park (Timbers), escorted into a separate entrance by security and police and essentially being required to sit in a specific section away from the home crowd. Granted this isn’t just you and a couple buddies. You link up with the other hundreds or more supporters for your team and make sure that the home team knows you are there.
This coming Sunday marks the 99th time that the Sounders and Timbers players and supporters clash. Synchronized chants will ensue as the Timbers supporters walk into Century Link field in hopes that their 2nd place team can take out the defending champs and top ranked team in the Sounders. This adds to the competition. Over 40 years of this rivalry and the two teams have always been relatively close in terms of level of play or ranking. But that’s not enough to fuel the fire…
How about the fact that the two cities are very similar economically, socially, and in their demographic? How about the fact that the two cities are separated by a quick 3 hour drive up and down I5? One city claims that the other is their little brother; you guess which one. The other city claims that they are in no cities shadow and are their completely own entity.
I’ve been lucky enough to be in the middle of this rivalry. There’s nothing quite like it. I’ve seen fights, beers thrown, vulgar accusations; I fucking love it. “Our team is better. Our city is better. We have better fans”, I love that shit. It’s fuel to the fire in what is truly a once in a lifetime experience. To be a part of the intense rivalry that is Sounders-Timbers, one can only prepare for what is to come.