Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers. It is exactly what Major League Soccer needs to transition some of those World Cup fans into domestic soccer fans.
Welcome World Cup fans.
Many fans tuning in this weekend, may have not have watched an MLS game before. Over the past several weeks there have been an abundance of “ This is my first MLS game” posts on sites such as Reddit, and other team fan sites.
The interest is there. For Major League Soccer, the Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers is exactly what is needed. There is no doubt the interest in soccer is there. From record numbers of ratings, to homegrown players making national headlines, the league is poised to benefit from a World Cup bump.
For those who are just trying to find something close to the pageantry and intensity of a World Cup game, this is it.
That will be close to the number in attendance on Sunday evening. There is no other venue like it in MLS. While there are other teams who play in stadiums with larger capacities, none of them come with the crowd size of Seattle. It will be loud. Like, Seattle loud. The Emerald City is known for its loud fans throughout the NFL world with the infamous 12th man. Those same fans also show up for Sounders games as well.
They stand. The entire game. Sure there are isolated pockets of sitting sections, but they are few and far between.
It begins several hours before the game. As fans will pile into Seattle area bars to watch the World Cup Final. Others will double dip with the Seattle Mariners, who have an early afternoon match. The city will buzz. Portland fans will arrive by busses, planes, and trains. They will be equally as boisterous and loud, although severely outnumbered.
The march to the match starts an hour before kickoff (6:00pm). An event which may normally get as many as 1,500 people will explode for this match. Last year, Clint Dempsey’s first game was against the Portland Timbers with nearly 5,000 people in attendance for the March to the Match.
Come for the game, stay for the tifos. Seattle Sounder’s supporters groups, specifically, The Emerald City Supporters (ECS) are known throughout the soccer world for their impressive displays. Sunday will be no different. MLS has an unbalanced schedule, meaning the Portland Timbers will only come to Seattle once this year, while the Sounders will head south twice.
Pure, unfiltered disdain. It is what these teams feel towards each other. The coaches don’t like each other, the players don’t like each other, the fans don’t like each other. The rivalry is real. It is not a trumped-up commercialization to sell a product. Fans take shots at each other year round on social media and in the streets.
MLB has the Yankees and Red Sox, the NBA has the Lakers and Celtics. MLS has the Sounders and Timbers. It is not a successful season unless you can get a victory against the other. It is a rivalry 40 years in the making. Transcending millenniums, leagues, and eras. The Timbers owner has actively antagonized Seattle supporters’ groups.
For Seattle Fans who have been born into this rivalry, it is a chance to share the passion and emotion of the game with some new faces. Be kind, be patient. It is a chance to grow the world’s game here in the US. Embrace the moment.
Kickoff: 7:00 PM PDT ESPN 2