Clint Dempsey - Seattle Sounders - celebrates his goal in Portland
Jaime Valdez/USA Today Sports

Roger Levesque to Red Card Wedding: History of Sounders-Timbers in Open Cup

While heated rivalries abound across MLS, few bear more bad blood than the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders, a clash regional, cultural and tribal in nature.

Both on and off the field, they talk trash, square up and menace one another with a variety of songs, chants and lurid tifo displays — and have done so in some form or fashion since 1975, when they first faced off in the old NASL.

That history also extends into the U.S. Open Cup, where the southern duo of the Cascadia Cup triad will lock horns again on Wednesday, this time at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington (10:30 PM ET | ESPN+ in the US). It’s their sixth meeting in the historic tournament since their MLS chapter opened with Seattle’s expansion season in 2009.

Here’s how the previous five unfolded:

Portland 1, Seattle 2, 2009 round of 16

The Rose City was richly anticipating this game, played at PGE Park, Providence Park’s past mixed-use incarnation and the home of the then-second-division Timbers. The sellout crowd of 16,382 that packed in hoping to witness a giant-killing in the midst of the Sounders’ highly-lauded MLS debut year set a franchise record at the time.

Seattle cult hero and longstanding Timbers antagonist Roger Levesque needed only 49 seconds to sledgehammer those dreams, netting a diving header in the first minute. He and teammate Nate Jaqua celebrated by mimicking a tree being chopped down, an ace troll move before troll moves were a thing and the start of a 2-1 Sounders win. The Rave Green would go on to hoist the first of their four Open Cup trophies later that year.

Portland 1, Seattle 1 (3-4 on PKs), 2010 round of 16

Portland frustrations would grow further a year later, as the Sounders traveled south to PGE Park and won again, this time via a tense penalty-kick shootout following a 1-1 draw in open play.

Taylor Graham’s 100th-minute red card put the hosts in the ascendancy, yet they were stymied by Kasey Keller in the shootout, as the Sounders’ veteran goalkeeper made two saves to start his team’s run to a second straight USOC title.

Seattle 3, Portland 1, 2014 quarterfinals

Played at Starfire, the Sounders’ USOC second home, this was a gripping, seesaw battle. After Osvaldo Alonso’s opener, Darlington Nagbe scored a last-gasp equalizer to send it to extra time. There, a Diego Chara red card put the visitors behind the 8 ball and Kenny Cooper and Marco Pappa capitalized for Seattle, who went on to win their fourth and most recent Open Cup championship.

Seattle 1, Portland 3, 2015 fourth round

One of the most infamous moments in the rivalry’s history, this epic Starfire clash has come to be known as the “Red Card Wedding” in light of the three ejections that left Seattle (who also lost striker Obafemi Martins to injury after exhausting their substitutions) with just seven players on the pitch at the end of extra time.

The most memorable of referee Daniel Radford’s bookings: The second yellow card to Sounders substitute Clint Dempsey, who reacted by grabbing Radford’s notebook and throwing it to the turf, then picking it up again just to tear it to shreds, a move that earned him a lengthy tournament suspension.

Seattle 2, Portland 1, 2017 fourth round

While few games could live up to the drama of that 2015 meeting, two reserve-heavy squads did their best in this meeting two years ago, a typically tight, scrappy affair won by the Sounders, who benefited significantly from the home-field advantage provided by a big, loud crowd in Starfire’s intimate environs.


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