Now we know it’s big time. The Sounders/Timbers rivalry is actually the subject of this article in the Wall Street Journal. The above title is all theirs. The piece itself — written by somebody who clearly knows nothing about the Northwest and doesn’t even bother trying to fake any footie knowledge — is inconsistent and inaccurate, and maybe that much more entertaining for it. It’s definitely worth a look.
The article begins with the premise that both sets of fans face a dilemma:
How to work up a healthy hatred for fans who, in so many ways, look and think exactly alike.
Later on the author observes that:
This Seattle-Portland animus isn’t new: these fans have been at odds since the 1970s when both cities’ teams played in the now-defunct North American Soccer League.
Huh? Are we struggling to “work up a hatred” or has it existed since the 1970s? Seems like it should be one or the other. And it’s clearly the latter. As Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, a relative newcomer to the region, observes, unlike some other MLS rivalries:
This is a rivalry that you don’t have to make into a rivalry … It already exists … It’s nothing that you have to whip into a frenzy. It’s there.
In its attempts to draw parallels between the Sounders and the Timbers, the WSJ, while acknowledging that the Timbers stadium holds fewer than 20,000 fans, seems to equate the Timbers’ fan base with the Sounders’ (who ranked 10th in the EPL in terms of attendance last year). Let’s be clear: an attendance of 20,000 would be the lowest home crowd ever for a Sounders MLS game. That said, credit where credit is due; the Timbers fans in the WSJ slideshow that accompanies the article do look thoroughly deranged.
But the most obvious error accompanies the now iconic photo (shown here) of Sounders fans holding up the number 11 in the 11th minute of the recent home game against Toronto. The WSJ thinks we’re holding number 11 because that’s the minute Steve Zakuani was taken out in the Colorado game. I’d guess that even Seattle Times sports columnist Steve Kelley knows that 11 is Zak’s number.
And then there are the quotes from the “colorful characters” interviewed in Seattle and Portland, most of whom reportedly have lip rings. First some chump compares beers: Mac & Jacks for Seattle vs. Deschutes for Portland. When obviously Manny’s is the iconic Seattle beer (Mac & Jacks is brewed in Redmond, not Seattle), and while Portland has some decent beers, I’m guessing most of those hipsters drink PBR.
Then, the article quotes a “graduate student” from Portland, who must be in a liberal arts program or something else that doesn’t require much intellectual horsepower as she thinks that Seattle has Republicans and Seattleites spend most of their time “sailing around in their sailboats.” Again, like Mac & Jacks, Republicans live on the Eastside, not in Seattle. Close, as they say, but no cigar.
And then the WSJ comes up with this:
Portlanders also accuse Seattle residents of being soccer fans just for the scarves—thousands of which Sounders marketers distributed for free before their first game in 2009.
Okay. Maybe they have a point about the scarves, as discussed here.