Cascadia Cup week means national attention. This trivalry is big enough that NBC will be airing their first ever MLS broadcast game Saturday at 12:30 when the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers face off for the 78th time in their various forms over the decades. The history, the vibrancy, the passion and the quality of play will attract national attention again. It is a rivalry that MLS is trying to help replicate in other regions (Farley, ProSoccerTalk).
It’s the type of rivalry Major League Soccer has always wanted. For years the league has tried to promote this type of synergy. Competition formats have been altered, unbalanced schedules have been adopted, both with the idea of creating a series of Portland-Seattles.
It isn't working and it can't. From that previous link;
Once you’ve been around Portland-Seattle, you know why. There’s something natural, almost inevitable about this rivalry. The idea that this strange, reserved, passive aggressive enmity could be replicated elsewhere suggests people can replicate nature. Rivals like the northwests’ just happen, and whether that’s because of the distinct notion of the Cascadia region, the counter-cultural ethos of the northwest, or the deep professional soccer history of the area, it’s an alchemy too unpredictable to replicate.
Portland, Seattle, Vancouver are all great cities. Each sits nestled in sight of major mountains and on bodies of water. Each shares a kind of ignored provincialism as the media of their nations tends to ignore them. Each is ignored by its soccer federation. Each of our fair cities looks as much to the East as it does to it's pre-national history as it does to the West.
We share so much. All three cities are the centers of their nation's craft brewing scene, their coffee roasting scene and have had various points of vibrant arts and music scenes. We are close to each other, neighbors, friends, siblings.
But when it comes to sports we are bitter rivals.
Whether it was the brief years of three NBA teams, or the local colleges that despise each other or even in minor league hockey this rivalry is viscous. But it is in soccer where it means even more. In a region with so few multi-generational families this Cascadia Cup exists outside of time.
It exists beyond the founding in 2004. It encapsulates the small differences between us and gives us moments to despise people who are both similar and different. In a very Northwest way it allows us to oppose one another in a very controlled environment. In another way it allows us to suck up the attention of the outsider and show them what it means to embrace history, to celebrate it and to become the center of American soccer - if just for a day.
There will be a crazy corporate mascot. Tifo displays to rival any around the world. The little Glass House will be packed and the neighborhood around it will be bathed in energy. More than a thousand people will journey down I-5 and about twenty thousand will come for Portland and its environs.
It is extraordinary television. Great for the game in America. It is the very essence of college sports and being more than just a fan of a team, but a member of the club.
It is also ours. It can not be captured, contained or replicated. The rubber leg of the three round Timbers v Sounders match will have more than 60,000 people. No other rivalry in the Anglo-French part of North American soccer will come close. Several of the celebrated rivalries in the Spanish speaking portion of CONCACAF won't come close.
No matter the desires of MLS, ESPN, NBC or SUM it can not be copied. It is something with which we are born. Cascadia is what we are, becoming the Kings of Cascadia is a fuel that raises youth soccer players. Dominance of our region of similarity is on the line on Saturday.
Richard may have said it best;
it’s an alchemy too unpredictable to replicate.
Maybe MLS needs to stop trying. Cascadia is what it is. Celebrate it. Put it on national broadcast television, but you can't force other cities to have what we have. They have other things. Their own things. They do not have the Cascadia Cup. They don't have the history. They don't have our partnership.
We have the Philosopher's Stone - It is the Cascadia Cup and it is on the line Saturday. We know exactly what that means.