There was a lot of intrigue and excitement when the Seattle Sounders released their regular season schedule for next year. It also led to the question of how the Cascadia Cup would be impacted in 2023.
The reason for this question was that the Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps are all scheduled to play each other three times. There was some concern about the lack of balance with, for example, Seattle having two home games versus Portland but just one against Vancouver.
Last year this wasn't an issue, as the Sounders played just two games against each of their Cascadia Cup rivals - one at home and one on the road.
The season before, however, only the final home game versus each team counted towards the final cup standings, with them having an uneven schedule similar to the one set for 2023.
The Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps supporters' group have confirmed rule changes to the Cascadia Cup in 2023
There had been some suggestion of using a similar format this coming season. In the end though, the supporters' groups made a decision this writer agrees with.
As reported by Jeremiah Oshan of Sounder at Heart, on Tuesday it was decided to have all regular season Cascadia clashes count towards the final cup standings. This sees a return to the format which was used between 2012-17, and it makes a lot of sense.
Whilst appreciating the preference for balance and fairness, the ultimate decision makes it more interesting. Including all Cascadia Cup games towards the final standings is more fun and -- if nothing else -- at least there is some balance, with each team having three home and three away games.
Emerald City Supporters Co-President Tom Biro released a statement about the rule changes. As per Oshan, Biro said:
"Ultimately, the Cascadia Cup is by the supporters, for the supporters, and we realized this was the best decision for the 2023 season. While we can appreciate MLS needing to make different scheduling decisions due to expansion, it’s pretty obvious the league recognizes where to generate the most attention each season."
A proud history
Last season saw the Timbers win the Cascadia Cup with some ease. Prior to this however, the Rave Green had become the first club to win three consecutive Cascadia Cups.
The Sounders lead the all time series with seven Cascadia Cups, compared to six by the Whitecaps and four by the Timbers. As such, in 2023 the pressure will be on Seattle to stop Vancouver equaling their proud record.
The Cascadia Cup was created by supporters in 2004, with the Whitecaps winning the inaugural trophy. Now the annual competition takes pride of place among the three teams, which have all since joined MLS.
What is your opinion of the rule update for the Cascadia Cup in 2023? Do you agree with the changes or not, and why? Let us know in the comments section below.