The 2011 edition of the Cascadia Cup opened at Qwest Field with the visiting Portland Timbers traveling up Interstate 5. It’s somehow fitting that the MLS Game of the Week on ESPN between the two teams from the Pacific Northwest took place in a drowning rain. It rained so much the pitch looked more like a rice paddy than a field.
The last time I watched Portland come to Seattle, it was to see the Portland Trailblazers visit Key Arena and lose to the Seattle Sonics. That was a very bittersweet win and yes, I’m still very bitter and angry about what happened after that. At this point, let me just throw in the obligatory fuck you to you David Stern and to you, Clay Bennett. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about you either, Howard Schulz, you get a fuck you too for selling Seattle out. I hate you all. I hope a tornado tears down your home. brick by fucking brick.
But let’s get back to the soccer version of the I-5 rivalry. In the soccer world, it’s called the Cascadia Cup and it’s been going for as long as the two cities have been kicking the ball around, almost 36 years overall.
That history was honored by the Seattle fanatics, the Emerald City Supporters, with huge banners unfurled just before kickoff, right after the Portland Timbers fans were shepherded into their assigned area. The banners read “Decades of Dominance” and depicted Sounders from the past and present: Jimmy Gabriel, Preston Burpo, Marcus Hahnemann, Brian Schmetzer, Fredy Montero, and Roger Levesque.
Levesque is not a star in MLS, but he’s ranked as one of the most hated men in Portland because he invariably has his best moments against the Timbers. Against Portland, he didn’t start but came on for an injured Brad Evans in the 42nd minute.
Levesque soon showed why the Timber Army burns him in effigy. In the 56nd minute, Levesque crossed the ball in to his banner mate, Fredy Montero. Montero was double-teamed by the defense but was able to head the ball on to a wide open Alvaro Fernandez. Fernandez had miles of space and ages of time to control the ball before sizzling it past Portland keeper Troy Perkins.
On a soggy night, with Seattle controlling possession, this lead seemed safe enough for the fans to start the celebrations.
Those festivities lasted less than 10 minutes. Seattle knew ahead of time that Portland excelled in the set pieces. Portland leads the league with eight goals, out of 12 total, coming from set pieces.
In the 65th minute, Jack Jewsbury sent a free kick into the box that Mamadou “Futty” Danso headed past a charging Kasey Keller to level the score, 1-1.
From that point, the match seemed more like a trench war of attrition than a free for all. This was mostly due to the weather but also down to Portland accepting a draw in a hostile arena.
The draw leaves Seattle’s record at 3-3-5, while Portland sits at 4-3-1. Both teams are level with 14 points.
This feels more like a loss though, especially with the groin pull suffered by Brad Evans and an ankle injury to Erik Friberg in training on Friday. The Sounders are looking more like a hospital ward lately with all the injuries to the stars.
Luckily, the team has some time to heal as the Sounders stay home to welcome Sporting Kansas City (1-5-1) to Qwest Field next Saturday.
Photo credit: Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times