TUKWILA, Wash. – Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer has been a part of the three-way Cascadia Cup rivalry between the Sounders, the Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps for about as long as anybody.
Seattle’s sideline boss used to play for the Sounders back in their NASL days and coached the USL iteration of the club from 2002-2008 before its leap to MLS, meaning he’s played and coached in countless Cascadia derbies. While the matches against Portland generate most of the hype and media buzz these days, Schmetzer told reporters this week that some of the most contentious matchups he can remember over the years actually came against Seattle’s neighbors to the north.
“The history with the Whitecaps is the same length of time [as Portland],” Schmetzer said. “I remember going up there as a 17, 18, 19-year-old kid playing reserve matches and it was hard.
“One of my favorite stories is when we played a game in the USL. It was a preseason game and the referee blew the whistle, the ball goes out the touchline and [former Sounders defender] Zach Scott comes in and just kills the guy. Straight red card, benches empty first five minutes of the game. So, that might not get a lot of press – it was the USL days – maybe Portland-Seattle gets more press. But, trust me, there’s been some competitive matches between the Whitecaps and Sounders as well.”
As the teams gear up for their upcoming rivalry bout at BC Place on Saturday (10 pm ET | TSN2 - Full TV & Streaming Info), there’s plenty on the line for both teams, with Seattle looking to extend their eight-game winning streak that already represents an MLS single-season record in the post-shootout era.
There’s also silverware at stake, as a victory on Saturday would give the Sounders the 2018 Cascadia Cup. Seattle haven’t won the regional trophy they compete for against Portland and Vancouver since 2015, and putting it in the bag on the Whitecaps’ home field would make it taste even sweeter, according to Sounders forward Will Bruin.
“It’s bragging rights at the end of the day and I think anytime we have a chance to win any kind of trophy, it’s something we take pride in,” Bruin said. “It would be great to clinch that on the road at Vancouver.
“I personally love celebrating trophies on other people’s turf.”
Rivalry implications aside, Bruin said, the Sounders simply need to continue collecting points in order to keep covering ground on the Western Conference table.
Even with the current winning streak, Seattle are still only one point clear of the Whitecaps for the last playoff spot in the West with 41 points. Should they earn three points on Saturday, the Sounders would add to that distance.
“The way I look at it is like, look, we’ve won eight in a row and we’re still right by the red line,” Bruin said. “So that shows how we really dug ourselves a hole at the beginning of the year. Any other team that won eight straight would probably jump to the top of the table. We’re not there, so we look at it as, look, it’s a great streak but we want to keep it going. We’re not content.”