The Portland Timbers' Other Rivals
With the Cascadia Cup on the line, our hometown team looks beyond the Seattle Sounders to tackle their friendlier, Canadian rivals.
In soccer, as in love, a three-way can be awkward. Someone always feels left out. With the Cascadia Cup—the annual competition created by fans in 2004 between the Portland Timbers, the Seattle Sounders, and Canada’s Vancouver Whitecaps—the media and fans lavish the bulk of their attention on the Seattle-Portland rivalry. But the Whitecaps, who come to Jeld-Wen Field on August 3, are far from minor players.
“We have a great hatred of Seattle, of course,” says Abram Goldman-Armstrong, one of the early founders of the Timbers Army in 2001. “And on some level, we get along with Vancouver fans because we both hate Seattle so much. But it’s a tripartite rivalry. You can’t talk about Seattle without talking about Vancouver.”
The ’Caps rivalry is as old as the Timbers, dating back to the Portland team’s first incarnation in the now-defunct North American Soccer League in 1975. On May 16 of that year, Portland players Tony Betts and Barry Powell scored against the Whitecaps in a 2-0 game, ending the ’Caps’ five-game winning streak and sparking the decades-long Pacific Northwest animosity between the two cities.
With a history that long, passions between the clubs tend to flare. Club Captain Jack Jewsbury—who scored the game-winning goal against Vancouver last October, bringing the Cascadia Cup back to Portland for the first time ever with all three teams competing—says, “You can feel the energy. Those games can be pretty hectic at times.” Off the pitch, Goldman-Armstrong recalls pushing and shoving between the Timbers Army and Vancouver’s “Southsiders” in the stands in 2005. And then there was the time that the Whitecaps’ avian mascot, Winger, threw a box into the traveling Timbers Army section.
Despite these rare flashpoints, such hooliganism is unlikely to rear its head in August—as it did in April when a rowdy group of San Jose Earthquakes supporters attacked a Timbers fan on Burnside. “It’s not a burning hatred,” says Goldman-Armstrong. “But that doesn’t make it any less important. We don’t want them to win.”
Of course, there’s a limit to the politeness. With just two of the Timbers’ six Cascadia Cup games played in Portland this year, victories in Jeld-Wen, with its considerable homefield advantage, are crucial for keeping the cup in our grasp.
Total games played against Vancouver since 1975: 70
Games won by the Timbers: 26
Aug 3, 7:30 p.m.
The game is sold out, but the Timbers Army maintains a ticket exchange that connects buyers with sellers (bypassing scalpers).
“Please don’t burn your town down when you lose!” (to the tune of “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain”)
“The Queen is on your money!”
[EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story falsely attributed the Southsiders-fighting anecdote to Jack Jewsbury, who was not with the team at the time. Goldman-Armstrong provided that information. We regret the error.]