The thump of drums, shower of chants, sling of chainsaw, wash of smoke-bombs, flares, and crazy flag waving fans are not English soccer fans. It’s Timbers supporters from Portland. All American baby. No English derby, this is Emerald City Supporters of Seattle against Timbers Army of Portland. Vuvuzela will be burned. This rivalry may look like an English Football Derby, but it’s American as apple pie. It’s the defending 2009 US Open Cup Champion, Seattle Sounders FC vs Portland Timbers. A rematch of Seattle’s 2-1 US Open Cup victory over Portland in 2009, played at the same site as this years rematch at PGE Park in downtown Portland.
The US run in the World Cup was pretty fun. On a scale of 1-10 the Algeria game was an emotional 11. The game play itself was only an 8. Then what is a 10, Mr. Sales on Sounders, you ask? Well, thanks for asking. My friends, the answer is simple. It is one of the oldest professional club rivalries in American soccer. In classic English football terms it is a “derby”. Tomorrow, Sounders FC travel to PGE Park, squaring off with Portland Timbers and their outrageous supporters, the Timbers Army. A much-anticipated rematch of Seattle’s 2-1 US Open Cup victory over Portland last year on their way to winning the 2009 US Open Cup. A great achievement in the Sounders inaugural season.
Sounders FC celebrated many historic firsts in their 2009 inaugural season. Top among these achievements was their 2-1 victory at RFK Stadium, against DC United in the US Open Cup Final. Taking home their first title and hardware helped establish the Sounders as the winning club they are building to become. More importantly it opened a door for them in season two to make their first attempt at ascending the highest obtainable height for any club worldwide. This soccer Everest, is the FIFA Club World Cup. Clubs qualify by winning their regions Champions League. The Sounders region is CONCACAF. The same region the US Mens and Womens National Teams qualify through to reach the World Cup. The FIFA Club World Cup is annual, while the World Cup is every 4 years.
In last years US Open Cup against Portland, Roger Levesque scored a stunning, and for Timvers fans, heart breaking first minute goal. Levesque was already one of the most hated players in Portland for having scored the most goals against them from 2005-2008. The final 3 years Sounders were in the USL-1 division with Portland. In his first minute goal, Levesque added kindling to the Timbers fire by adding a celebration mocking one of Portland’s famed rituals. The Timbers have a Lumberjack for a mascot. He takes his chainsaw, revs it up and cuts wood, spraying sawdust and smoke into the beer bellowed air of the Timbers Army. Levesque, being savoy and spiteful, had a teammate act like he had a chainsaw, and proceeded to cut Levesque down. Levesque fell and was dragged away by other teammates. It was a well choreographed goal celebration. One that stirred conversation going into the rematch. With Portland joining MLS next year, Timbers fans already believe they are as good as the Sounders, and don’t need much motivation to try and prove it.
The Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders rivalry started in 1974. Last year, even with the teams in different leagues, the US Open Cup match, and Levesque’s goal only had added intensity over past rivalry meetings. The game earned a featured two page picture in Sports Illustrated a week later. The game will draw even more attention this year, including TV coverage. US Open Cup matches are rarely televised as the competition has little advertising. The intensity of this rivalry and the rematch are some of the best inexpensive advertising the US Open Cup has had.
“Why so serious”? Said the Joker to Batman, in, The Dark Knight. Well, the US Open Cup will never be bigger than the MLS Cup. But as people begin to understand soccer more they will see the value in this competition. It allows potential young stars to gain recognition and compete with older former players, top amateurs, as well as MLS regulars. Even though a small rural county team may never win the cup. It is every few years that just such a team will knock out an MLS team, and forever place that team and its community in a spotlight. I invite everyone to support this type of true community sport. I hope 10 years from now towns all over the US will compete to host a US Open Cup match. It is “so serious”, because winning it is one means for a US club to potentially reach the status of best club in the world. The winner gains an opportunity to play in the CONCACAF Champions League. The winner of the CONCACAF Champions League earns a berth in the FIFA Club World Cup. By the Sounders winning the 2009 US Open Cup, they make their first attempt at ascending this great soccer Everest this year.
This is one of our country’s oldest competed for trophy’s dating to 1914. In 1999 one of the outstanding patrons of the modern competition, Lamar Hunt, was recognized by adding his name to the competition. The competition is open to all United States Soccer Federation affiliated teams from amateur to professional. Prior to joining Major League Soccer, the Sounders had not won a US Open Cup, but had a winning record against MLS clubs. They knocked Chivas USA out of the 2008 US Open Cup 5-1. Upsets for some reason, well beyond my comprehension of soccer, exist in this sport more than any other I know. Earlier this year in Spain’s Copa del Rey, (Spain’s version of the US Open Cup), Real Madrid lost 4-0 to Alcorcon. A team well below Real Madrid’s
world status. Could you imagine Boise State beating the Dallas Cowboys in a pre-season game? Never, ever, ever. Well, it happens every year in soccer in almost every country. This last winter I watched Manchester United get knocked out of the FA Cup, on their home pitch, by a second level team.
For Club and For Country
FIFA = Federation Internationale de Football Association
The 6 regions of FIFA
AFC – Asian Football Confederation
CAF – Confederation Africaine de Football
CONCACAF – Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football
CONMEBOL – Confederation Sudamericana de Futbol
OFC – Oceania Football Confederation
UEFA - Union of European Football Associations
National Teams and Clubs play in the same region. For example, the US Mens and Womens National Teams play in CONCACAF, the same FIFA region as MLS clubs Seattle Sounders FC and LA Galaxy.
And we wonder why World Cup refs can’t get calls right. Who the heck even knows all the regions? No wonder US sports stick to conferences like “North”, “South” “East” and “West” The toughest one we deal with is BCS. Nice and short, unfortunately no one knows how it actually works. Well, that is other than how it works annually to deny the University of Utah and Boise State their due National Championships. Oh, but that’s for a muse of another day. FIFA is an association established under Swiss law, located in Zurich. The President is Sepp Blatter. As far as I can tell, your chances are better to meet the Pope than Sepp. Unless of course, you are Bill Clinton or Mick Jagger. Until that happens, the closest your thoughts and comments will get to anyone in FIFA, including Mr. Sepp Blatter, is with my Sales on Sounders comment link below. Have at it.
When a soccer match comes to Penalty Kicks a few things are certain. Any player still standing after playing a nearly full 130 minutes is physically and mentally running on empty. The full 90 played out with a few minutes tacked on for stoppages completing the first half, and again at the end of regulation time. No winner decided. Two extra time periods of 15 minutes each elapsed, again without a winner emerging. So, all that is left is guessing right, or guessing wrong. Simple really.
In 1994 an Italian guessed wrong in the World Cup. Chances are you don’t know his name. Baggio stepped up for his PK, (common name for Penalty Kicks) one of the brightest, high-profile Italian stars in European soccer, and his brightest moment was upon him. Italy and Brazil squared off in the Rose Bowl, in Passedena, for the 1994 World Cup Final. If Baggio hits his PK, Italy knocks out Brazil. Confidence is what Baggio is known for as much as any player on the pitch that day. His shot is confident and strong. A little too strong. His shot sails over the crossbar. Brazil win another World Cup. I was in Nak-Nek, Alaska working at a fish processing plant. I saw this Italian go down to the ground. I thought briefly, “ah too bad for him”, then I jumped up and down with everyone else enjoying the Samba Kings celebration. His star status shot from the sky. In the harsh world of soccer, he’s no big deal anymore. The less likely Brazilian hero, who made his shot, is Dunga, who is coaching the 2010 Brazilian team to another likely appearance in the South Africa final. When such an intense and grueling sport comes to guessing right, or guessing wrong, it’s fair to say, the outcome will always be unreasonably unfair to someone.
Portland matched the Sounders ability for 130 minutes. The Sounders took a 1-nil lead in the 13th minute, but Portland fought hard for the equalizer in the 38th minute. That was the end of the scoring summary. Penalty Kicks would decide the fate of both teams. The winner advancing in the US Open Cup, and the loser out. The coin toss chooses advantage. The first team to shoot has that advantage. Portland won the coin toss. Each team gets five penalty kicks. Team with the most made, wins. If still tied after five, then it keeps going until one makes it and the other misses. Keller took the advantage away from Portland making the first save. Seattle hit the next three shots. In the fourth round of PK’s Keller again guessed correctly, making the save. Patrick Ianni only has to make his shot and Sounders win. Like Baggio, his shot goes high and off the crossbar. Portland makes their last shot. Zach Scott for Seattle is last to go. He guesses correctly, missing the Portland keeper and Sounders advance. It’s glory for Sounders. How unfair for Portland at home. I’d almost feel bad for Portland, except not much has gone well for Seattle in 2010. So a little fortune in guessing right feels like just rewards.
13th min, Seattle - N. Jaqua, (goal), Montaño, (assist)
38th min, Portland – B. Dike (goal), Pore (assist)
Final – Seattle 1 – 1 Portland
Penalty Shoot Out
1. N. Sturgis (Goal) 4. P. Ianni (Crossbar)
2. F. Montero (Goal) 5. Z. Scott (Goal) – Winning PK
3. S. Zakuani (Goal)
1. R. Pore (Save) 4. R. Smith (Save)
2. D. DeMartin (Goal) 5. R. Lopez (Goal)
3. M. Danso (Goal)
Penalty Kick Final – Seattle (4) – (3) Portland