What You Need to Know About the Sounders and Timbers Rivalry

There’s a huge soccer game on Sunday. ESPN will be covering it. It’s a colossal affair.

No, we’re not talking about Germany vs Argentina in the World Cup Final in Brazil. We’re talking about Sounders vs Timbers in Seattle.

Some residents of The Wave and Nolo will be hosting BBQ’s and pre-game parties filled with rave green decor. But for those of you surprised by how may people will be walking past your front door, we have a few tidbits you can digest.


Q1: What’s with the crowd?
A1: A few nights per year, the Sounders open the stadium to full capacity. The Portland game is one of those days where the whole city wants to come out and root for the home side.

Q2: Why is the Seattle vs Portland rivalry so strong?
A2: It goes back 40 years, literally. Yes, the MLS Sounders only stared in 2009 and yes the MLS Timbers stared in 2011. But through multiple leagues (both major and minor) these two cities have competed in soccer for decades. The hardest of the hardcore fans can remember names, stats and stories from years ago. It’s arguably the best rivalry in sports that the rest of the country is unaware of.

Q3: What should I expect?
A3: After 17 games, the Sounders are the top of the Western Conference with 35 points (11 wins, 2 ties, 4 losses). After 18 games, Portland is in 7th place in the Western Conference with 21 points (4 wins, 9 ties and 5 losses). Portland is unique in that they have given up the most goals in the Conference (30), but also scored the 2nd most (30). Seattle has given up its share of goals (24) but leads the league in goals scored (33). It seems likely that these teams will score some goals.

Q4: No, I mean what should I expect in terms of crowd behavior?
A4: The fans of these two teams do not like each other at all. However, they respect each other enough to adhere to the rules of general soccer fan behavior. So expect a lot of singing, cheering and taunting, but nothing violent. For example, one song you may hear goes like this:
“Start a bonfire, start a bonfire,
Put the Timbers at the top.
Put Vancouver in the middle,
And we’ll burn the (stinking) lot.”

Now of course no Sounders fan wants to light another person on fire, but you can see how the rivalry goes.

Q5: What’s a tifo?
A5: For important games, the Sounders’ Supporters Group, the Emerald City Supporters, create a large banner to show off before the game. The ones from the last 3 years are quite impressive.
2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PtKByi394M
2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ9DCBae8NI
2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rD21vrnsdK0
If you don’t go to the game, you might be able to see this year’s from your window.

Q6: This sound fun. Can I go to the game?
A6: Yes. It will be close to a packed house, but you can still get tickets from Ticketmaster, or if you want better seats you can go to StubHub. It should be a great evening.

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