As is the case in sports reporting, there is often a lot of extra material when reporting on a big story, in this case the rivalry between the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers. While space in the newspaper is limited, I wanted to use this platform to provide extra quotes, some of which provide some great insights and material.
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(on Portland rivalry)
It’s definitely an intense one. I think having played Vancouver last week, it’s always a little more cordial with Vancouver than it is with Portland. It was always a do or die game with Portland.
(is this one of the best rivalries in the country?)
I can only speak for the seven years that I played against Portland, but those seven years had some of the most intense games I have ever been a part of. It has definitely ramped up over the last couple years and could easily be the best rivalry in the country.
(how are games with Portland different?)
Nothing that much different on the soccer side. It’s kind of the same in that sense. I think it’s more of the familiarity with the players. They’ve kind of had a core group of guys that us the Sounders would play as a core group. It would be six or seven guys that we see every year for a couple games. It’s kind of cliché, but familiarity does breed contempt.
(what’s the worst thing you’ve been called by a Timbers fan?)
Me not so much. I think you’d have to ask Roger about those names.
(why is Roger their most hated Sounder?)
That’s a good question. I honestly don’t know what it is. I think they might’ve blown a couple things out of proportion. They looked for a scapegoat on a team that had been beating them year in and year out, and Roger was that guy, scoring goals and winning games.
(on the environment of the rivalry game)
Certainly the atmosphere with our fans being here and their fans being here will ramp it up a little bit. Hopefully that’ll get transferred into energy, movement of the ball and running off the ball and not physical play.
(what do you know about the Seattle-Portland as a relative newcomer?)
I know enough. I know the cities are close by. We got a good taste of it last year in the Open Cup game. It was pretty intense. It was pretty heated. You grow up being aware of rivalries wherever you grow up or come from, in your own parts in the world. Even in youth soccer in southern California we had some rivals. And I went to a school called UCLA so there was a big rival in USC. I know what some of those feeling are all about in rivalries.
(on playing Portland)
I always look forward to it. Probably means a little bit more this year. It’s kind of a kickoff to them coming into MLS next season. I think everyone’s excited for it. I know they are.
(why are you public enemy No. 1 in Portland?)
I don’t know. I feel like I’ve just been around for a long time. We’ve had a lot of battles in the USL days. Seattle and Portland, always bitter rivals. Always two successful organizations vying for that top spot. That’s sort of where it started and it’s getting more and more heated throughout the years.
(on the Pacific Northwest rivalries)
I think between the three cities Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, MLS found a little bit of the rebirth of the spirit captured in the 1980s. It is such a good rivalry for so many reasons.
(can the rivalry top what it was in the 1980s?)
That’s up to the players, the players in this generation. The demands of the game are so different. I’m dating myself a little bit, but the tackle in the first five minutes of the game back then, you knew it was coming. If I’m a defender and here’s a forward, in the first five minutes of the game, I’m going to lump him. That doesn’t happen anymore. You can still play physical but it’s a little different. The make up back then was the English player with that physical mentality. Now the rivalry will be subtlety different, but the spirit will remain.
GAVIN WILKINSON, Portland coach
(on playing Seattle)
Playing against an MLS team always presents a challenge. We are 10 days into our preseason and while we are still trying to get our legs underneath us, the opportunity to play Seattle and renew this outstanding Northwest rivalry was too good to pass up. This game presents another chance for our players to impress as we get close to starting our season and we look forward to seeing how our guys respond to the challenge.