Sorry to disappoint you America, but we're here to support our team, not brawl in the streets. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Over the last couple days I've been seeing a few articles from news sources not particularly knowledgeable in soccer or the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders come out with an almost surprised reaction to the relative calm between the fans during last Sunday's game. That's not to say we were calm. In fact, I'd say it was the best and most energetic crowd ever (although the home opener was mighty thrilling as well). What they mean by "calm" is that there wasn't any fighting and there was no real danger at any point.
Let's get one thing straight. I hate the Flounders. As deeply as I love the Timbers and the sport, I despise Seattle. As well it should be. We're rivals. Portland and Seattle's rivalry extends beyond soccer, but, currently, it's the only real way for the two cities to compete head to head. That said, I would never ever ever raise a fist to anybody of an opposing team or for the simple fact that they support the Sounders over the Timbers. I'd like to think most Timbers (and Sounders) fans are the same way.
It comes off a little frustrating and annoying that everybody expects us to clobber each other every time the teams meet on the field. We each love our respective teams and the game at large, but if smaller print media and national media sources are expecting us to throw down each time we meet they're going to be disappointed at our "relative" calm. Not only would it make us look bad, but it would also be detrimental to the sport as a whole in the nation were something serious to erupt. Something no fan of soccer would ever want.So I just want to put this out there... Yes, we hate each other. And no, you won't ever see me applauding the Sounders in any tournament (even if they're the last MLS team in the CONCACAF Champions League), but you can count on us being civil towards each other. Isolated incidents might occur, but the overwhelming reaction between each fanbase is generally amicable, begrudgingly so, but still amicable.
I encourage fans to come to Jeld-Wen Field, sit with other fans and enjoy the experience (although keep in mind the TA section is closed off to visiting supporters). You might get verbally harassed a little bit, but it's mostly in good fun. We're all there to enjoy the experience, not to physically cause harm to either you or our stadium.
As the title says, the rivalry between the two fanbases is fierce, but as we showed the nation on Sunday, it's pretty safe as well. I'm happy to report that there were very minimal incidents at both the May 14th game in Seattle and Sunday's game here in Portland. The goal will be to keep in this way for... well... forever.
[in response to The Cascadia Cup: Where were the hooligans?]