Sounders' Frei admits "it sucks" that rival Timbers beat Seattle to MLS Cup

Stefan Frei - Seattle Sounders - Shouting from the goal

TUKWILA, Wash.—Going into Sunday’s Cascadia Cup rivalry matchup between the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers at Providence Park (3pm ET; FOX, MLS LIVE in Canada), it’s the Timbers that have the unquestioned bragging rights. Portland are defending MLS Cup champions – the first Cascadia franchise to lay claim to the league title.

But when asked on Thursday if that development changes the dynamic or adds to the intensity of the rivalry in any capacity, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid pointed out that his side still has the numerical advantage when it comes to trophies.

“I know they’re excited about [winning the MLS Cup],” Schmid said. “I think they still have some trophies to go to catch us.

Seattle have raised four U.S. Open Cups since their 2009 MLS expansion season and bagged a Supporters’ Shield in 2014, although Schmid did acknowledge that the MLS Cup holds more weight than the trophies the Sounders have won.

“Obviously MLS Cup is considered the biggest trophy,” Schmid said. "It’s a tournament, and anybody can win a tournament, just like anybody can win an Open Cup tournament, in fairness. If we could take our Open Cup tournament success and turn into MLS Cup success, we certainly would.”

For Sounders forward Herculez Gomez, the implications are simple when it comes to Seattle’s most-heated rival also being the league’s defending champion.

“What can anybody say to the Timbers? They were in the same boat last year and they won the MLS Cup,” Gomez said. “We can’t say anything to them.

“That’s one of the benefits, one of the perks that comes with being a champion. There are players in this locker room that realize that. It doesn’t matter what’s going on right now in June and July. It’s what happens in November and December.”

Speaking with reporters after Seattle’s practice at Starfire Soccer Complex on Friday, Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei admitted that seeing the Timbers win a championship last season had a different feel to it than if it had been another side.

“It sucks when they win the trophy before we do,” Frei said. “It hurts. It’s not just another team that won the MLS Cup, it’s your rival.”

The Sounders have respect for what Portland accomplished last season, Frei says, but added that Sunday’s fixture affords his team an initial opportunity to start trying to swing the pendulum back the other direction.

“For me, it does [change the dynamic],” Frei said. “I respect that they won it because they did what they had to do. They found their stride at the right time and they came through when they needed it. That’s what it’s about. More power to them.

“But am I going to be here clapping and congratulating and hugging them? No, definitely not. It’s kind of our job now to bite them in the butt and knock them down a peg and make sure they don’t repeat.”