Cascadia Summit: A Rivalry For All

Players & fans looking forward to weekend's matchups

Eddie Johnson - preseason 2011 3.1.11

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Portland. Seattle. Vancouver.

They are the creative, artistic, economic, and athletic spine of the Cascadia region in the Pacific Northwest. Rivals and good neighbors across the spectrum, the three cities are meeting this weekend to hash out a soccer rivalry at the Cascadia Summit between the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders FC, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

With intertwining soccer histories going back 35 years to the NASL days, this weekend’s Summit is the first chapter of combining all three teams on the MLS level of play. Most recently the three teams hashed out heated games in the USL/USSF-D2 era and the occasional U.S. Open Cup pairing. Seattle first made the jump to the next level in 2009 now to be followed by Portland and Vancouver who make their MLS regular season debut in a few weeks.

While these games are still “only” preseason friendlies and don’t count in the standings, that doesn’t mean they aren’t full of interest. Supporters from Portland and Vancouver will be descending upon the Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila, WA to join their Seattle counterparts for three matches and a Supporters Summit. The importance of the games and the rivalry within them is not something that is lost on the players—especially those new to the Northwest.

“It was probably one of the first things I heard about when I came to Portland,” said Timbers striker Eddie Johnson who was one of the Timbers’ inaugural signings after starring in the USSF D-2 last season.

“Before this tournament, [players] were all talking about the league games—home and away. I understand how big it is. Obviously in England, we have a lot of rivalries which are quite big and this one seems just as big as any other so it’s going to be interesting this weekend.”

After playing games in Ventura, CA and Casa Grande, AZ, the Summit should provide the Timbers  with the first matches that have a sizeable supporters contingent—all of whom should be in full voice.

“I think it always adds energy when there’s a crowd there and obviously with the rivalry between the sets of supporters, it’s going to be fun to play in,” said Johnson.

You’ve got an extra bit of edge because you know you’ve got a group of supporters behind you that are desperate to beat the local rivals. Hopefully we can not disappoint.”

And while the focus may be still on fitness and preparing for the regular season, don’t think for a moment that the team isn’t looking forward to lining up with some MLS competition with a focus on winning.

“John [Spencer] keeps saying to us before every game, it doesn’t matter what type of game it is, whether it’s a friendly, reserve game, league game or preseason game. He wants to win. I think all the players feel the same way,” said Johnson.

Obviously it’s a big one for the fans this weekend. It’s big for us too.”