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Timbers-Sounders: Who Wins First in Portland?

The all-time series is just about even in the first game of each season played in Portland.

Tom Hauck

There are plenty of ways to start to break down how the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders will match up this weekend. With a month of the season to use as reference, several trends are becoming fairly clear and personnel decisions are coming into focus. But for now, forget all of that as we look back to see how the Timbers have historically fared against the Sounders.

Since the Timbers ruined any chance of writing about the first ever Timbers victory over the Sounders in Portland, and rather than go back through every single game ever played (Sounder at Heart has the full record in this terrible poem), let's just look at the first game each season at Civic Stadium/PGE Park/Jeld-Wen Field.

Nine times in the twenty-one seasons where Timbers and Sounders teams have competed (in other words, I'm leaving out the 1989/1990 Seattle Storm), Portland has hosted the first meeting between the two teams. Eleven times the Timbers won the first meeting to take place in Portland, ten times the Sounders did.

The very first such meeting was a Sounders victory at Civic Stadium in May 1975. The Timbers won the other two rivalry debuts in the NASL era, which came in 1978 and 1979. Portland's 2-1 win in '79, thanks to goals from Clyde Best and Dave Butler, broke a four-game losing streak and started a three-game winning streak. Butler scored in all three games, representing half of his season total in his only year with the Timbers.


* First game between teams takes place in Portland

Independent US Open Cup matches

*May 2, 1975: Portland 0 - Seattle 1

August 7, 1976: Portland 0 - Seattle 3

June 11, 1977: Portland 3 - Seattle 0 (Best 2x, Day)

*June 10, 1978: Portland 1 - Seattle 0 (shootout)

*June 9, 1979: Portland 2 - Seattle 1 (Best, Butler) - broke 4 game losing streak

June 14, 1980: Portland 0 - Seattle 1 (shootout)

June 13, 1981: Portland 2 - Seattle 1 (own-goal, Bain)

July 24, 1982: Portland 1 - Seattle 4 (Mitchell)

In Portland's third iteration, the club featured Seattle games early in the season for the first four seasons. In fact, from 2002-2004, the Sounders game was the first of the entire season. The Timbers only won one of those encounters, when Alan Gordon notched a first minute goal and Byron Alvarez scored in a 2-1 win in 2004. Afterward, Portland only hosted the first game between the rivals in April 2008 with Taka Suzuki's brilliant shot and one of Miguel Guante's two career Portland goals. By the end of the second division era, in 2009 and 2010, Portland only played Seattle once each season, both times losing in the US Open Cup. In 2005 the first game played in Portland was an Open Cup match, won by Portland 2-0. The first league game that year was also a Timbers win with Paul Conway scoring in a 1-0 victory in August.

*May 11, 2001: Portland 2 - Seattle 0 (Baena, Sancho)

*May 4, 2002: Portland 0 - Seattle 2

*May 1, 2003: Portland 0 - Seattle 1

*May 1, 2004: Portland 2 - Seattle 1 (Gordon, Alvarez)

(July 12, 2005: Portland 2 - Seattle 0 (Alcarez-Cuellar, Antoniuk))

August 7, 2005: Portland 1 - Seattle 0 (Conway)

June 3, 2006: Portland 3 - Seattle 1 (Gutierrez, Chisoni, Alcarez-Cuellar)

May 11, 2007: Portland 2 - Seattle 2 (Jordan, Gregor)

*April 26, 2008: Portland 2 - Seattle 0 (Suzuki, Guante)

July 1, 2009: Portland 1 - Seattle 2 (Keita)

June 30, 2010: Portland 1 - Seattle 1 (3-4 pens) (Dike)

Finally, in MLS, Portland and Seattle have played several very compelling games. Each of the three home debuts for the Timbers in this current era were utterly different, from Eric Brunner's disastrous red card in 2011 to David Horst's crazed celebration in 2012 and Kalif Alhassan's fantastic reaction last year.

July 10, 2011: Portland 2 - Seattle 3 (own-goal, Perlaza)

*June 24, 2012: Portland 2 - Seattle 1 (Boyd, Horst)

October 13, 2013: Portland 1 - Seattle 0 (Alhassan)

To recap, there is no particular trend across the years and decades that would give us any insight into how Saturday's game will go. But isn't it cool to see all those results in one place?