History Makes Cascadia Cup Unique in American Soccer

Cascadia Cup Crests Compilation courtesy of David Falk of www.goalseattle.com

 In light of match one being this weekend I have decided to bump the story back to the front page. Know Your History. This was guest written by David Falk of Seattle Soccer Examiner and the GoalSeattle network of sites.

I've been holding off writing about the upcoming reuniting of the Cascadia clubs in MLS in part because I keep getting this feeling that I am letting history have too much say in my view of it. When I think of Seattle Sounders v. Portland Timbers v. Vancouver Whitecaps I can't help but frame the derbies this way: Vancouver will be Seattle's toughest opponent on the pitch and Portland will be the biggest rival in the stands.

This thinking is really a blend of the old and the new, of North American Soccer League (NASL) results and United Soccer Leagues (USL) road trips. The toughest team for the Sounders to beat in the 1970's, outside of the New York Cosmos, were usually the Vancouver Whitecaps. The most contentious back and forth between supporters groups in the most-recent decade has been between Emerald City Supporters and the Timbers Army. Will it be any different in Major League Soccer in 2011?

The Cascadia Cup is a fairly recent creation in terms of these derbies. It almost seems like a miracle (and a lot like the recent joint effort of the three clubs' supporters in the recent away ticket issue) that back in 2003 we were all able to come together and agree to designate a cup trophy for the triangle derby. The Vancouver Southsiders, Timbers Army and Emerald City Supporters collected funds and a $450 cup was purchased from an Italian company. At the time the cup was unique, but since then I have seen more than a few of the same design around. A plaque on the base for winners was attached and by 2004 the "Cascadia Years" were underway.

Not being able to shake my founding theory that the Caps are the club to fear and the Timbers have the fans to hate, I decided to look back over the history of the cities in soccer and see if my gut instincts have even the slightest statistical backing. Three websites were of great help on the trip back: www.GOALSeattle.com , www.TimbersFanPage.com , and http://SeattlePitch.tripod.com.

Seattle and Vancouver entered the NASL together in 1974. That year the Sounders won the season series with the Caps. The entire NASL era looks like this in terms of who bested whom, counting all regular season matches played against. From 1975-1982 all three clubs were involved. Before the 1983 season the Timbers had folded.

North American Soccer League Cascadia Winners 

  • 1974-Seattle*
  • 1975-Portland
  • 1976-Seattle
  • 1977-Portland/Seattle/Vancouver (only 3-way tie in derby history)
  • 1978-Vancouver
  • 1979-Vancouver
  • 1980-Seattle
  • 1981-Vancouver
  • 1982-Vancouver
  • 1983-Vancouver**
  •  

So the NASL Years, also my formative soccer fan years, have left me with a healthy respect for the Whitecaps as a division one side. It's important to note that in those years (especially the late 1970's- early 1980's) Vancouver were also to be feared in the stands. They often brought giant sections of several thousand chanting, drunk fans into the Kingdome, and also brought "oogie, oogie, oggie, oi, oi, oi!" to the Emerald City for the first time.

The Portland Timbers love the rivalry when it is just between them and one other team. When the full derby is in play the Timbers tend not to win it. Portland's only year to take the derby all on their own was 1975. In the mixed bag years between 1984 and 2001 Portland managed a couple of season series wins against FC Seattle.

 

The Mixed Bag Years Cascadia Winners 

  • 1985-Seattle*
  • 1986-Seattle*
  • 1987-Seattle/Portland*
  • 1988-Seattle*
  • 1989-Portland*
  • 1990-Portland*
  • 1994-Seattle**
  • 1995-Vancouver**
  • 1996-Seattle**
  • 1997-Seattle**
  • 1998-Seattle**
  • 1999-Seattle/Vancouver**
  • 2000-Seattle**

*=FC Seattle v. FC Portland / Portland Timbers **=Seattle Sounders v. Vancouver 86ers

In 2001 all three clubs started playing each other in the same league again. It was also the year that the Vancouver 86ers changed their name to the Whitecaps. The clubs were in the A-League of the USL.

 

Pre-Cup USL Years Cascadia Winners 

  • 2001-Vancouver
  • 2002-Seattle
  • 2003-Vancouver

History has a way of giving us little gifts, and these derbies are full of facts and easter eggs. Did you know that Portland Timbers first and last matches in the NASL were against the Sounders? That the Timbers' first USL A-League match was also against Seattle? That Vancouver and Seattle have played each other in soccer well over 100 times? That Seattle opened BC Place in 1983 against the Whitecaps before over 60,000 fans? That Seattle's last match in the USL was a 3:2 loss at Starfire to Vancouver back in 2008?

The Cascadia Cup will be pushed to prominence in 2011. It's going to be big because it has such history behind it, and such passion in the air for it to return to its proper place as a three-way affair. Portland and Vancouver supporters voted to keep playing for the cup in 2009 and 2010, and as history shows the Timbers like such a set-up. They have won both season series against the Whitecaps in those years.

 

Cascadia Cup Winners These are the only ones listed in the sidebar trophy chest

  • 2004-Vancouver
  • 2005-Vancouver
  • 2006-Seattle
  • 2007-Seattle
  • 2008-Vancouver
  • 2009-Portland*
  • 2010-Portland*

*=Seattle in MLS

That's the way the cup was established. You try getting all three fan bases to agree on anything! Instead, a simple 2:1 majority makes the rules. Portland and Vancouver wanted the cup to continue, and so it did. As a Seattle supporter I was actually OK with this, though many were not. Asterisks are our friends. 

I expect when the 2011 season rolls around, and history grabs a hold of our three clubs once again, putting them in the same league as God has always intended, that I will wince at the TV up close shots of 'Soccer City USA's' Timbers Army. I'll watch with wonder to see if Vancouver also brings it in the stands. I'll consider the Whitecaps a rival for 'big club' status in the region with the Sounders. Their ownership, history and success in Cascadia can not be overlooked. And then there are the Timbers. Still in my mind a 'small club' fighting for both respect, approval and a place with their brothers. 

Are you keeping score? Adding up all the years looks like this: (Half shares for any shared title)

  • Seattle: 15.5
  • Vancouver: 12
  • Portland: 6

For just the three-way tournaments: (These have been added by Dave Clark for perspective)

  • Vancouver: 9.5
  • Seattle: 5.5
  • Portland: 1.5

Long live Cascadia!

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