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Kings of Cascadia: The top performances in MLS so far

Soccer matches in the Pacific Northwest have brought out the best in a number of players. Here we have a look back at some of the top Cascadia matches played in MLS so far.

In the biggest games, the biggest stars tend to shine the brightest. In the Cascadia Cup, that has been the case since Sounders FC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Portland Timbers began battling for the regional trophy at the MLS level in 2011.

Some have sparked memorable moments, others consistent dazzling performances in the derby matches. Either way, those become the memorable players in the biggest rivalries in MLS.

With Camilo’s brace and lightning strike goal to equalize with the Timbers on Sunday, we look back at some of the memorable performances and the top overall performers in the Cascadia Cup.

June 11, 2011; Whitecaps FC vs. Sounders FC @ CenturyLink Field

In the first MLS meeting between Seattle and Vancouver, Whitecaps FC Designated Player Eric Hassli announced his arrival as a Cascadian giant. The French striker scored in the 25th minute and Seattle stormed back to take a 2-1 lead in the 84th minute. Then, Hassli unfurled a shot from the top corner of the box on the volley that did a physics-defying dance to find its way into the far top corner of the net to finish the match in a 2-2 draw.

July 10, 2011; Sounders FC vs. Timbers @ JELD-WEN Field

Portland took two leads, only to have Fredy Montero score twice to keep the match tied. Then in the 81st minute, Lamar Neagle drew a red card on Eric Brunner and a penalty, which was converted for the match-winner by Osvaldo Alonso to give Seattle the 3-2 comeback win.

September 24, 2011; Sounders FC vs. Whitecaps FC @ Empire Field

In the final match played at Empire Field in Vancouver, Sounders FC spoiled the celebration by taking three points and the Cascadia Cup. Sanvezzo and Brad Evans traded goals in the first half, then Montero erupted for another brace, the first goal coming with some dazzling footwork to evade Jay DeMerit and slice a shot inside the far corner to give Seattle the early lead. The second iced a 3-1 win for Sounders FC and allowed it to celebrate by lifting the Cascadia Cup in the first competition at the MLS level with the hundreds of fans that traveled north for the match.

May 19, 2012; Sounders FC vs. Whitecaps FC @ BC Place

In the first Cascadia match of the 2012 season, Montero again made sure it was a memorable one. Sanvezzo continued his string of good performances in rivalry matches with an 81st minute goal to make it 2-1. With the clock stopped at 90:00, Montero juked around his defender at the top of the box, then knifed a shot past a befuddled Joe Cannon for the 2-2 final score. In Eddie Johnson’s first indoctrination into the Cascadia Cup, he also scored to begin his own string of success in derby matches.

October 7, 2012; Sounders FC vs. Timbers @ CenturyLink Field

While each prior match had a dramatic finish to define the heroic moment, this match was more remembered for its crowd. 66,452 fans packed CenturyLink Field and overwhelmed the Timbers while the Sounders splintered them to the tune of a 3-0 trouncing. It started with an own-goal by one-time Seattle trialist Mamadou Danso and finished with goals by Johnson and Montero to bring the crowd to frenzy.

May 18, 2013; Timbers vs. Whitecaps FC @ BC Place

Vancouver looked to have the match wrapped up. Leading 2-1 in the 81st minute, Vancouver was then put on the man-advantage when Danso was shown a red card. Short-handed and down a goal, the Timbers still had fight in them and a goal by Jose Valencia in the 84th minute gave Portland the improbable draw.

August 25, 2013; Sounders FC vs. Timbers @ CenturyLink Field

Clint Dempsey made his home debut for Seattle and the Sounders FC faithful showed up in record numbers, with a standing-room-only crowd of 67,385 at CenturyLink Field. Johnson would again play the hero, heading in an assist from Mauro Rosales to give Seattle the 1-0 victory.

October 6, 2013; Timbers vs. Whitecaps FC @ BC Place

On Sunday, a flurry of goals in a two-minute stretch was punctuated by a stunning goal from Sanvezzo. Darlington Nagbe already had a highlight-reel goal in the first half when Sanvezzo equalized with an impressive goal in its own right in the 76th minute. Portland quickly regained the lead off the boot of Will Johnson, but Sanvezzo wasn’t done, scissoring a side-winding shot past David Ousted in the 78th minute for the draw.

From those highlighted matches, one can discern some of the individual stars of the Cascadia Cup.

Montero had eight goals and two assists in 10 matches to lead all in the claim for the crown of “King of Cascadia.” This year, though, he has been matched by Sanvezzo, whose two goals on Sunday give him eight goals and two assists in 15 matches. Eddie Johnson has six goals and one assist in nine matches, but like Montero will not be available for the coming matches. Montero is on loan to Sporting Lisbon in Portugal, while Johnson is with the U.S. National Team.

Combatting Sanvezzo will be goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who has four shutouts in Cascadia Cup play and has posted a 0.75 goals against average in eight starts.

Portland isn’t without stars in the series either. Rodney Wallace has two goals in six matches against Seattle, but has made them both count with game-tying headers. The first came on September 15, 2012, at JELD-WEN Field, where he rose above the Seattle defense to head in a Jack Jewsbury corner kick in a 1-1 draw. The second came earlier this year at CenturyLink Field. Portland regained possession after a cleared corner kick and the ball came back into the box for Wallace streaking to the near post for a header and a 1-1 draw on March 16.

Who will be the hero on Wednesday when Sounders FC hosts Whitecaps FC at CenturyLink Field? How about Sunday in the series finale at JELD-WEN Field where Seattle will meet the Timbers?