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Celebrating 100: Our favorite Sounders-Timbers memories

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The Sounder at Heart shares.

Today marks the 100th meeting between the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers, easily the most storied rivalry in American soccer history. The rivalry has persisted through more than 40 years and at least five leagues. Games have been played in five different stadiums with 10 different names. Hundreds of players have participated, countless fans have watched in person and just about all of them come away feeling the same thing: This is something special.

Whether you’ve consumed the game only on TV or been lucky enough to witness it in person, chances are you have one memory that sticks in your mind like no other. Here are some of our favorite memories:

Dave Clark: Founder/Editor of Sounder at Heart

On May 14, 2011, my birthday, Alvaro Fernandez welcomed the Portland Timbers to the MLS version of the rivalry. The rains were heavy, rave green ponchos the most common sight in the stadium. His goal was like a gift from the team to me. Yes, the Sounders only drew that day, but it was good enough for Seattle to own Cascadia on the year. The era started with a Sounder scoring and the year ended with the Cascadia Cup in Seattle.

Spenser Davis: Former SaH beat writer

My very first Sounders match was the Timbers’ visit to CenturyLink on August 25, 2013. Despite being a soccer fan for years, I had never really had much respect for MLS. I saw FC Dallas play once in my 23 years in the DFW area, and that was because Inter Milan was in town for a friendly, led by former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez and a host of international superstars. When I lived in LA, I saw a few Galaxy matches, but the terrible location and sterile crowd kept me from becoming a fan--or even respecting the league. Even though I did see some excellent goals from the likes of David Beckham and Robbie Keane at those games, MLS still didn’t hook me.

Clint Dempsey, who had always been my favorite USMNT player (because he’s a Texan) had signed for the Sounders as I was literally driving to Seattle for our move. We ended up snatching tickets to his home debut match, that Aug. 25 meeting with the Timbers. I was awestruck at the crowd size and volume, impressed that the rivalry was so intense that security had to surround the Timbers fans -- just like in Europe. The game wasn’t exactly proof that the MLS product was much better than I expected, but the atmosphere and occasional bits of magic from Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, and others, made me realize that maybe MLS was different in Seattle.

While I’ve seen many more matches between the Timbers and the Sounders that were more entertaining or interesting, I’ll remember this one the most because it made me feel like home in a new city. My new city loved soccer, just like me. Their new hero was a Texan, and already a hero to me. It was during that game that I felt like I could belong in Seattle and with this club, something that has only become more true in the years that followed.

Jeremiah Oshan: SaH editor

I’ve been lucky enough to witness in person every trip the Sounders have taken to Portland since 2011, either as a member of the press or as a fan. This definitely isn’t my best memory but it is my most distinct one. I don’t remember a ton about the game -- but Wikipedia reminds me it ended 4-1 after the Timbers scored three times after the 74th minute. What sticks in my mind, though, was riding the MAX back to my cousin’s house afterward.

I had planned to attend the game with my wife, but she had to back out at the last minute. That left me attending the game solo. During the match, that was fine. I was surrounded by several hundred other Sounders fans, of course.

But once the game ended and I was outside the stadium, I suddenly realized that my Sounders jersey was calling a lot of unwanted attention. It was entirely good-natured ribbing, but walking through a sea of jubilant, likely intoxicated Timbers fans, wearing a bright-green Sounders jersey, I don’t think I’d ever felt quite so exposed. Being taunted by people carrying remains of the “Timbers Wonderland” tifo was hardly death defying, but it did give me some time to reflect on the privilege I enjoy on an everyday basis.