History is being made in the storied Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers rivalry. Face it America, Sounders-Timbers is THE rivalry in American soccer. The supporters hate each other and both teams have outlandish personality. Seattle bedecks the feud with Captain America Clint Dempsey and wizened coach Sigi Schmid. Portland trots out the insufferable twins: Will Johnson and Caleb Porter.
We are currently in the dog days of the Cascadia war. Wednesday night was round one of the marquee matchup and it felt so good as Seattle punched Portland in the mouth. Sigi said it himself; knocking the Timbers out of the 2014 Open Cup was revenge for them knocking us out of the 2013 MLS Cup playoffs. Eliminating a rival from a cup competition is always sweet, but to me MLS takes precedence. I’d gladly have traded Wednesday’s night dramatic victory for the memory of beating the crowing Timbers in the first year of the Caleb Porter regime.
Porter is such a tool. When he wins he brags like a hopped-up frat boy and when he loses it’s always someone else’s fault. Last night it was the ref’s fault. It really chaffs my nuts that Porter arrived in Portland lauded as a visionary coach and then followed through by delivering the Western Conference crown, a playoff series victory and the sweet fortune of delivering the deathblow to your hated rival.
It is no secret I loath Caleb Porter. Before you go thinking I need anger management or something, consider the health of our rivalry now that we have such powerful personalities on either side. I loved how inept John Spencer was. He was a comical Scot who we could always count on to beat But the rivalry was so lopsided then and Spenny was too much the butt of jokes. He didn’t engender real passion from Soundersland. Porter? He’s a schmuck and so easy to hate. That is good for Cascadia.
It is a privilege to part of this rivalry. And the story needs to be peopled with memorable characters and talented players. Sigi, before the arrival of Clint Dempsey, was the face of the Sounders and now Portland has an equally noteworthy coach. I hate to admit it but when Portland is competitive, the rivalry grows. Seattle’s stars are Dempsey and Obafemi Martins and allegedly the Timbers’ star is Darlington Nagbe.
When Nagbe equalized at the death (scoring his first goal of the season among all competitions, btw), it escalated my blood pressure but cemented the game’s status. Wednesday became a milestone. But… is Nagbe that special? He has one goal in 21 games. And yet he’s supposedly this precocious talent who’s just about to bloom. Wake me up when he does. Maybe I’m gonna jinx it and Nagbe will finally become the player Portland desperately, desperately imagines him to be. But ff we compare Nagbe to a former up-and-coming Cascadian talent, Fredy Montero, the Liberian pales to the Colombian:
In 56 games over his first two seasons, Montero scored 22 goals for the Rave Green.
In 112 games over his entire 3.5 seasons in MLS, Nagbe has 17 goals for the wrong color green.
Fredy was pouring goals in as a young Sounder in 2009 and 2010 before he transitioned from prospect to star. 2010 was Fredy’s age 23 season, as 2014 is for Nagbe. So… when do we stop labeling Nagbe as precocious and rather just a “pretty okay player”?
For one night, at least, Nagbe played big in a big game. That too is good for the rivalry. He Portlanded us. If it was a regular league game, draw city would’ve earned the draw. But thanks Darlington. You allowed us Cascadians to write a new chapter in our fabulous story. You allowed the game to go toextra time. You allowed Diego Chara to act the fool all of us in the Sound know he is and foul Marco Pappa. Then former Timber Kenny Cooper and transcendent new Sounder Pappa got to pile it on and light the biggest bonfire the north has ever seen. That is, at least until Sunday.