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June 10, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Let the Heritage Cup competition begin

From Soccer Silicon Valley:

Earthquakes and Sounders Meet in Inaugural “Heritage Cup” Match June 13, 2009 at Qwest Field

Soccer Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SSVCF) is pleased to announce that the Major League Soccer (MLS) match on June 13, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle between the San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders FC will be the first ever in competition for the fan-sponsored Heritage Cup.

The Heritage Cup trophy, conceived and designed by Earthquakes fan Rob Stevenson and commissioned by SSVCF in collaboration with Seattle supporters, is contested by teams who celebrate the history of North American soccer by taking their names from the franchises their cities held in the North American Soccer league (NASL). The NASL was the first premier soccer league of both the United States and Canada, and operated from 1968 to 1984. Currently, the only two teams who qualify for the Heritage Cup are the San Jose Earthquakes and the expansion Seattle Sounders FC, whose namesakes competed in the NASL from 1974 to 1983.

The annual competition will expand to four clubs in 2011, with the arrival in MLS of the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps, both of which were also clubs in the old NASL.

This season, the Heritage Cup competition consists of a pair of head-to-head matches between the Earthquakes and the Sounders, in Seattle on June 13 and at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara on August 2,, a match which will coincide with a weekend-long 35th reunion celebration of the original Earthquakes of the NASL. The Heritage Cup will be awarded on the pitch jointly by fan representatives of both teams at the conclusion of the August 2 match.

The names Earthquakes and Sounders were not foreordained for the current MLS clubs in San Jose and Seattle but instead resulted from the passion of fans, who advocated for preserving the historical identity of top-level soccer in their communities. San Jose, which entered MLS in 1996 as the Clash, changed its name to the Earthquakes in 2000. After winning a pair of championships in 2001 and 2003, the team relocated to Houston in 2006. At the urging of Earthquakes fans via Soccer Silicon Valley, MLS retained the team colors, records, trophies, and the cherished Earthquakes name for San Jose’s return as an expansion outfit in 2008. Seattle fans, for their part, waged a successful write-in campaign for the nickname “Sounders” during an online-name-the team poll in 2008. The “Sounders” name overwhelmed other choices such as “Alliance” and “Republic.”

“We commissioned the Heritage Cup because it helps fulfill our mission of building community through soccer,” says SSVCF president Don Gagliardi. “Part of building that community is celebrating soccer’s history in our community. The Earthquakes and Sounders have a proud tradition of top level soccer dating back 35 years — an ancient lineage by the measure of American soccer. Every time the Heritage Cup is contested, it is a chance for a new generation of fans to learn about that rich tradition.”

Longtime Sounders fan Heather Johnson, who served as the Seattle liaison to SSVCF, says that her fellow Sounders fans are excited to be a part of this Cup competition. “It’s a great opportunity to have a friendly competition between teams and fans that share a long history of rivalry.”


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