On Saturday, the Sounders FC has a special opportunity to honor their supporters on the road.
In this, the first season that the Cascadia Cup will be played for in Major League Soccer, the Sounders are one win away from clinching the inaugural edition of the trophy at the highest level and hoisting the cup in front of the over 500 who are expected to have traveled across the border to Empire Stadium for Seattle’s final match of the derby this season.
While the rivalries between the three clubs date back to the North American Soccer League, the Cascadia Cup was first awarded in 2004. The supporter groups from the Sounders, Whitecaps and Timbers collectively funded the two-foot-tall trophy, which is awarded to the team with the best series record each season.
The Sounders drew both of their home matches against Portland and Vancouver, but topped the Timbers in Portland to take the lead in the race for the Cup.
In the five years that all three teams competed for the Cascadia Cup, Vancouver has won it three times and Seattle has won it twice. Portland won it both years that Seattle did not compete for it while they were in Major League Soccer and the other two clubs played second division.
“It’s a way for the organization to start off on the right foot,” Sounders FC defender Jeff Parke said. “This is the first year that we all get to play against each other in the league. What better than to come home with the trophy?”
Timbers Army currently holds the trophy by virtue of winning the Cup in 2010. A representative from the Portland supporter group will be at the match on Saturday to award the trophy to the ECS along with Sounders FC players if Seattle wins.
The chance to lift that trophy is an opportunity that Kasey Keller relishes.
“You don’t get to raise a lot of trophies any time as a player. Every time I’ve had the opportunity, be it club stuff in Europe, a few Gold Cups with the national team, the Open Cups … I’ll take one more, no problem. I’ll take a few more this year, before it’s done,” Keller said. “It would be a lot of fun for our traveling fans to hold that trophy in front of them up there in Vancouver.”
The Sounder most familiar with the rivalries, assistant coach Brian Schmetzer, is also looking forward to the match. Schmetzer played against the Whitecaps in the NASL and coached against them in the A-League/USL before coming on as an assistant coach with the Sounders FC in MLS.
“Battling for the Cascadia Cup is probably icing on the cupcake,” Schmetzer said. “We always wanted to beat Portland and Vancouver a lot. It was a rivalry game, so adding some cup or chalice is just icing on the cake.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm on KONG 6/16, with the radio broadcast on 97.3 KIRO FM.