MLS resurrects I-5 rivalry

BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:39 PM ET

TUKWILA, Wash. - North American soccer’s answer to the Maple Leafs-Canadiens and Eskimos-Stampeders rivalries was reborn on the weekend.

The Seattle Sounders hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers in the three-day Cascadia Summit Major League Soccer exhibition.

“This is going to be an example to the rest of North America,” said Sounders broadcaster Arlo White, moderator of a Saturday conference for coaches and supporters’ clubs. “The passion for the game will intensify with people watching this rivalry.”

The Interstate 5 derby began almost 37 years ago in June 1974 when the original North American Soccer League Whitecaps and Sounders met at Vancouver’s Empire Stadium. The Sounders were Vancouver’s first opponents at a sold-out 60,000-seat B.C. Place Stadium on June 1983.

The 1975-born Timbers were victims of contraction in 1982 and the Sounders were gone after 1983. The Whitecaps hung on for the NASL's last season in 1984. 

The Vancouver 86ers debuted in the Canadian Soccer League in 1987 and assumed the Whitecaps’ name in 2000. They competed with new versions of the Sounders and Timbers in the United Soccer Leagues’ First Division through 2008. Vancouver and Portland were granted 2011 expansion franchises the same week as the Sounders’ 2009 MLS debut.

Vancouver’s 1979 Soccer Bowl win was the only such triumph among the three teams. Vancouver won four CSL titles and, like Seattle, two USL-1 trophies. The Sounders are the defending, two-time U.S. Open Cup champion and lead Vancouver 54-42-15 and Portland 32-21-5 all-time. The 'Caps are 32-24-11 against the Timbers.

“These are the three teams that are going to drive the league,” said John Knox, president of the Whitecaps’ Southsiders supporters club.

The 'Caps also have a cross-Canada rivalry with Toronto FC, their first regular season visitor March 19. The Montreal Impact joins the MLS in 2012. 


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