I remember a few years ago before I started writing about soccer, I would go over to my friends house nearly every weekend to watch games. He had FOX Soccer on his cable system and I did not, so it was a logical decision to end up at his place for watching games.
He also had back issues of FourFourTwo and as I was learning and growing as a fan of the game, I would read through those magazines all the time.
What really stuck with me from that reading were the stories about some of the biggest rivalries in the world.
I remember reading about the Revierderby, the Derby of the eternal enemies, Fenerbahçe vs Galatasaray, the Eternal Derby of Romania and so many others. I would look at the images of the fans, tifos and flares absorbing the passion through the pages and dreaming about being able to experience events like those one day in the future.
This was the same time that I started to pay attention to MLS for the first time after being a total "Eurosnob" towards the league for years. It was genuinely disappointing that the league lacked any visible rivalries like the ones I saw in the pages of FourFourTwo. But I obviously understood the lack of history in MLS and that building real and emotionally driven derbies takes time.
When MLS began its expansion into the Pacific Northwest and I began to observe the crowds in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver from afar, it was immediately clear that here were planted the seeds for something special in American soccer.
As more information came out and I became more familiar with the history, I had to revise my thinking from rivalries being seeded to rivalries ready to return to full bloom.
If you hear or read fans from New York, Philadelphia, DC or anywhere else trying to tell you that Cascadia isn't a big deal or trying to offer up some ridiculous explanation of why it's not the biggest rivalry in American soccer, ignore them. They're wrong and they're probably jealous that the teams they support haven't yet been able to create something with the history and spectacle that is the Cascadia Cup.
I know this is a fact because I've spent the last two seasons watching from afar and I'm jealous. I look at the pathetic excuse for a rivalry that MLS marketing has tried to create here in my home state of Texas and I can't decide whether to laugh or get angry.
I can only hope that eventually other rivalries in the league will grow to the level of Sounders vs. Timbers. I firmly believe that if given time and consistent meetings, it will happen but truly special rivalries can't be created by marketing departments and they certainly can't be owned by a league.
In the end, I've just been jealous and so have many others because we can't fully understand what the rivalry means to Seattle and Portland fans. We can see it from afar but until we step into the middle of the tempest, it's hard for us to truly appreciate and understand what it really means.
I was in attendance for the Sounders' win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 8th and was blown away by the crowd, the atmosphere, the sights and sounds of what felt like a truly major sporting event. It was special but I also knew there was something better that I needed to be a part of.
From the first time I saw a game between the Sounders and Timbers on television, I knew it was the rivalry game I'd been waiting for since the first time I'd read those stories years ago. I knew I needed to be there, I knew I needed to experience it, but the chance had remained elusive until this week.
Thanks to the amazing generosity of Full Pull Wines -- one the of the sponsors of Nos Audietis -- I will be getting on a plane early Saturday morning here in Dallas and flying to the Emerald City.
On Sunday night I will be standing among the 67,000-plus fans in CenturyLink Field as the Sounders host the Portland Timbers in THE single biggest derby in American soccer. I've got a ticket and I'll be out there with all of you, in the stands, soaking in what I expect to be one of the seminal moments of my soccer-watching life.
It's the realization of a dream that I've had since the first time I read about famous derbies in the pages of FourFourTwo all those years ago. I've been waiting for Sunday for years and I'm ready for a tremendous experience. I want to finally understand what it feels like to be involved with a massive rivalry and I'm going to get a chance.
I would say "don't let me down Seattle" but I know you won't.