Portland Timbers midfielder Rodrigo Lopez.
Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers

López: Friendly vs. América will be like Cascadia rivalry

BEAVERTON, Ore. — Two Portland vs. Seattle matches in the span of three days?  

That’s exactly how Portland Timbers midfielder Rodrigo López feels about Mexican side Club América coming to town for a Thursday night exhibition match at JELD-WEN Field (11 pm ET, streamed live on portlandtimbers.com) just three days before the club’s bitter rivalry resumes with the Seattle Sounders in a league match on Sunday afternoon.

López claims the atmosphere on Thursday night just might rival a Portland-Seattle match.

“I’m pretty sure a lot of the Latin community is going to come out and support them,” said López, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico. “They’re one of the most popular teams in Mexico. And it’s going to be a great, great atmosphere.”

Lopez grew up with Club América’s rival club, Chivas, based in his hometown. In 2004-05, he spent time with the Chivas youth academy and then played with Chivas USA for three years before joining the Timbers.

His Mexican roots provide López with a unique perspective on the club from Mexico City. When the two clubs meet, it’s dubbed the “El Super Clásico."

“Growing up with Chivas, it was always a rivalry,” said López, a reserve who figures to see significant playing time in the match. “It was always good, hard-fought battles in Mexico in the Clásico.”

Neither team today will play as if points were on the line, but López said lining up against a team of Club América’s caliber will do nothing but help the Timbers. The historic club features Priméra División 2011 Clausura-leading goal scorer, Ángel Reyna, fresh off a stint with the Mexican national team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Club América are preparing for the 2011 Mexican Apertura season which they will kick off on Sunday, July 24 at home against Querétaro. Meanwhile, Portland will reach the midway point of their inaugural MLS season on Sunday looking to break a six-game MLS winless streak.

“It’s going to help us a lot and it’s going to be good preparation for Seattle,” López said. “I think we have a great team, and we’re in a slump right now. But I think we’re going to get out of it. And I think this weekend is a good time to do it.”