I think it’s fair to say that tomorrow’s local derby between the Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps has attracted considerably less attention, locally and nationally, than last month’s match with the Portland Timbers. No big write-up in the Wall Street Journal this week. It will be interesting to see if the Emerald City Supporters have another tifo or something similar up their sleeves for Vancouver.
Maybe the Sounders/Whitecaps match-up has received less attention because you can only have one Great Hipster Soccer Showdown. This is one of many entertaining passages from the WSJ piece on the Sounders/Timbers rivalry piece:
Portland fans “think they’re punk-rock, underground, hard-core superstars,” said Jeff James, a 24-year-old software engineer singing heartily in the raucous Emerald City Supporters’ section. “They think they’re like, hipsters,” said James, clad in skinny jeans, a plaid shirt, shades and K-Swiss sneakers. “And they think Seattle’s like a corporate town.”
There are some obvious differences between Vancouver and Portland. For one thing, the Vancouver supporters are Canadian, and much nicer than those snotty Portland hipsters, with their Mirror Pond Pale Ale. And the hipster quotient is arguably lower in Vancouver, although I bet Main Street — which Charles Demers describes in Vancouver Special as the “southern, slightly more upscale half of Vancouver’s hipster nerve centre” (I’m not sure where the northern, downscale half is) — has more than its share of skinny jeans and K-Swiss trainers or the Canadian equivalent.
Maybe. But the MLS web site has an interesting anecdote about the Sounders/Whitecaps rivalry, which dates back to 1974 and the North American Soccer League (NASL) days. As an aside, it’s interesting to note that only four of the names in the MLS date back to the NASL days and three of those — the Sounders, Timbers, and Whitecaps — are here in the Northwest; the San Jose Earthquakes is the other. The anecdote from 1980 involves Bruce Rioch, who I’d no idea had played for the Sounders, and fellow Scottish international Willie Johnston, who played for the Whitecaps. Bad blood spilling over from the 1978 World Cup, and maybe the fact that Rioch was only marginally Scottish to begin with, resulted in Johnston mooning the Sounders bench after scoring the winner in a penalty shootout, a NASL tradition that’s thankfully gone by the wayside.
The Sounders definitely hold the upper edge over the Whitecaps, not just in current league standings — we’re third in MLS Western Conference, the Whitecaps are last and just sacked their manager — but over time, with the Sounders winning 54 of the teams’ previous competitive games, versus the Whitecaps paltry 42; for those keeping count, the other 15 games were draws. All 500 tickets at Qwest field allocated to the Whitecaps have been sold, and I bet there’ll be Whitecaps fans scattered elsewhere in the stands, like the Portland fans before them. In contrast with last month’s Portland game, we need a solid and decisive victory tomorrow and, if possible, considerably less rain.