Currently the Cascadia Cup sits in Vancouver, but on Saturday, Sounders FC looks to begin the march to return the trophy to Seattle when it faces Whitecaps FC in the first meeting between the two clubs in 2014.
After winning six of the last seven matches, Sounders FC is rolling. However, Vancouver is unbeaten at 2-0-2 in the last four matches, setting the table for another classic battle between the two longstanding rivals.
"Rivalry games are always fun. Those are games that people always mark on the calendar," said Sounders FC forward Kenny Cooper. "Anytime I've been there, it's been a great atmosphere. Now being a part of this rivalry I'm sure it will be even better. These are the games we all get excited about as players."
Cooper saw another side to the rivalry as a member of the Portland Timbers in 2011. He even scored the winning goal in a 1-0 Portland victory to spoil the opening of BC Place for the Whitecaps that year.
This year, the Cascadia Cup competition got off to a rousing start with a 4-4 draw between Portland and Seattle at Providence Park in April. While the matchup between Seattle and Vancouver sets up to be wide open, Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid is hoping it doesn't result in a heart-wrenching game like the match in Portland did.
"My heart can't endure all those high-scoring 4-4s. Especially coming from behind," Schmid said. "We want to make sure that we do another good job defending. But we're still very confident in our offense and our ability to create chances. I think it's going to be a game that's going to be a bit open. They're a team that likes to counter attack and get forward, so it might open up at certain times during the game."
Vancouver won the trophy last season with a 2-1-3 record against Seattle and Portland, giving each of the three clubs a chance to hoist the trophy in the first three years that they have competed at the MLS level.
Started in 2004 by the major supporter groups from the three clubs – Southsiders in Vancouver, Emerald City Supporters in Seattle and Timbers Army in Portland – the Cascadia Cup has formalized the derby between them, creating something tangible to go with the bragging rights the respective supporter groups hold when its team wins over its rivals in a given year.
In 2009, Sounders FC moved from the USL to MLS, but the battle for the Cascadia Cup continued between Vancouver and Portland until they too joined MLS in 2011, with Portland winning the trophy in both seasons that Seattle was not a participant. All told, Vancouver has won four times, while Seattle and Portland have each won three times.