TUKWILA, Wash. — Sigi Schmid doesn’t want Seattle’s crowd to cheer the Sounders to victory. Rather, he wants to give the crowd something to cheer about.
Early this week, in advance of Saturday’s match against the Portland Timbers (11 pm ET; ESPN2, ESPN Deportes), Schmid discussed using the team’s energy to bring the sellout crowd into the match.
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“We have to be the catalyst,” Schmid said. “We have to be the ones that step on the field with a lot of energy to get our crowd energized as well, and then our crowd will have the energy to keep us energized.”
A lack of energy shouldn’t be an issue in this highly charged matchup. The history of the Seattle-Portland rivalry, which spans several decades and different leagues, gives it an authenticity that many feel doesn’t yet exist in other MLS rivalries.
Sounders assistant coach Brian Schmetzer and goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra, who have been around the Seattle-Portland rivalry their whole lives, have had a “bounce in their step” throughout the week, according to Schmid.
Schmetzer, who was born and raised in Seattle, coached a number of games against Portland as head coach of the A-League and USL Sounders franchise. He recalled a handful of his favorite memories of the rivalry, which he has participated in as both a player and a coach.
He said that Portland will be fired up to beat its “big brother.”
"As a guy that was born and raised in Seattle … it gives me chills to know that all the hard work and sacrifice that we've done in this area to promote soccer,” Schmetzer said. “Adrian [Hanauer], Pete [Fewing], myself, all the guys around here, [former Sounders coach] Bernie James, there's a lot of guys that have kept the flame going.
“To have this come now to fruition, to have a packed house, enthusiastic fans, quality soccer players, is just fantastic.”
Several hundred Portland fans are expected make the trip from Oregon. The Sounders players are looking forward to the atmosphere the sellout crowd of 36,000-plus will provide.
Schmid, Schmetzer and many other Sounders complimented the Portland fans on the energy they bring. Roger Levesque, a fixture in this rivalry for the past several years and enemy No. 1 for most Timbers fans, enjoys the passion from both sets of supporters.
“Any kind of back-and-forth just shows the passion of both cities and both fan groups in how involved they are and how excited everyone is for the game,” said Levesque.
Like everyone else, Schmid is excited to kick it off.
“It’s going to be a great day of soccer for the Northwest and it’s going to be a great day of soccer for the nation,” he said.
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS