When it comes time to educate his team about the Cascadia Cup, Sigi Schmid joked this week that he has a simple tactic.
“We lock them in a room with Zach Scott and Roger Levesque,” Schmid quipped. “Usually eight hours is all it takes, then they know what it means.”
Of the 125 matches between Seattle and Vancouver dating back to 1974 in the North American Soccer League and through every incarnation in between, Scott has played in 29 games against Vancouver to lead all current players while Levesque has played in 22. So nobody has more knowledge of the intensity of the derby, save Sounders FC assistant coach Brian Schmetzer who has played and coached against the Whitecaps at all levels.
Although the faces – and leagues – have changed, that intensity hasn’t as the teams have jumped from the USL to MLS and the rosters have overturned.
“It’s definitely different now with new guys on both teams and trying to get them to understand the history and intensity of the rivalry,” Scott said. “In the USL days, it was a group of maybe ten guys on both teams who had played five years in a row against each other – two or three games a year. So it was easy to get up for those games. Now it’s a matter of teaching these young guys and these new guys how important these games are – not only in the standings, but from a pride standpoint.”
On Vancouver’s roster, only one player has any pre-MLS experience in the derby. Former USL and MLS Sounder Sebastien Le Toux played six matches against the Whitecaps in the USL and netted three goals and an assist in 2007 and 2008.
With Le Toux now in Vancouver and Mike Fucito now a Portland Timber, there is also a new element to the rivalry, as it now features players that have played for multiple teams within Cascadia.
Those friendships off the field are cast aside once the whistle blows though.
“On the field, the competitive drive completely takes over,” Levesque said. “Off the field, I’ve been around long enough that I have friends on pretty much every team. Once you’re on the field, you lose sight of that and the most important thing is getting the result and getting the win.”
Levesque has become a favorite target of vitriol from the Timbers supporters, but said that there is nothing different about the rivalry with the Whitecaps from the north.
“Absolutely not. The history between the three teams has been around long before I have,” he said. “So that passion and that rivalry is definitely there with both teams.”
Historically, Seattle has done very well in the rivalry, holding a 61-45-19 record against Vancouver all-time.
The Sounders hold the Cascadia Cup after going 2-0-2 and lifting the Cup at the final game at Empire Stadium with a 3-1 win before the Whitecaps opened BC Place last year.
This year, the Whitecaps have started the season strong, sitting fourth in the Western Conference at 5-3-2 behind a defense that ranks third in MLS, allowing 11 goals in ten matches.
“They’re a different team this year, but regardless of who the Sounders or Whitecaps put on the field, it’s going to be an intense game,” Scott said.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2 pm from BC Place with television coverage on KONG 6/16 and the radio broadcast on 97.3 KIRO FM.