When the Sounders FC faces the Portland Timbers at Qwest Field on Saturday, it’s not expected to be a family-friendly environment on the field. “A little bit nasty,” is how Roger Levesque described the anticipated playing style.
After the match, it may be a bit different for Seattle defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Portland forward Jorge Perlaza.
The on-field rivals share more than a home country of Colombia – they are cousins that are also great friends who have played with and against each other since they were kids.
Growing up in nearby municipalities in Colombia, Hurtado and Perlaza played on select teams together throughout their youth. They played in pick-up games together and shared many family meals.
That didn’t stop them from having heated head-to-head meetings when they happened to line up on opposite teams though.
When they reached the professional level, they played against each other several times while Hurtado played for five different clubs in Colombia and Perlaza suited up for Deportes Quindio and Deportes Tolima. With Hurtado playing center back and Perlaza as a striker, that meant several head-to-head clashes over the years.
“We have quite a history together,” Hurtado smiled. “He’s a fast player. He’s a good dangerous player. You have to keep your eye on him.”
When Major League Soccer and the Timbers came calling, Perlaza turned to Hurtado for advice and a scouting report on the league. It was at Hurtado’s recommendation that Perlaza decided to sign with Portland.
“I told him that it was a good league that is growing day-by-day and year-by-year and that he could come make a great contribution to his team,” Hurtado said. “The league is similar to a European league, but the way they contract players is a little bit different. It’s a good league and he’ll enjoy playing here.”
Kickoff is set for 8 pm at Qwest Field. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 with the radio broadcast on 97.3 KIRO FM.