Portland Timbers Kick Off MLS Rivalry by Blanking Seattle Sounders FC

We haven't had a nice Pacific Northwest professional sports rivalry since the Seattle SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.

Not that we're completely devoid of rivalries around here — the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers maintain a bitter in-state rivalry, and the Ducks and Washington Huskies still have a good rivalry going in a handful of sports. But at the professional sports level, without those Blazers-Sonics games to look forward to — and the ability to cruise a few hours along I-5 to attend an away game — the Pacific Northwest interstate pro sports landscape has been pretty dull in recent years.

Enter the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC.

The two teams squared off as MLS clubs for the first time on Friday night, with the Timbers winning the preseason match 2-0 in front of 3,100 raucous fans.

Best of all, the crowd was pretty much bipartisan, meaning a fair amount of Portland fans made the trip to Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila, Washington, just south of Seattle, for the opener of the Cascadia Summit, a three-day event featuring matchups between the three MLS teams in the northwest — Portland, Seattle and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

This Portland-Seattle matchup looks to be the MLS' best rivalry right off the bat, and it got off to a great start for the Timbers, who came away with a shutout victory behind goals from forwards Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza, with Perlaza knocking in the first goal in the 21st minute and Cooper converting an assist from midfielder Sal Zizzo in the 90th.

The Timbers remained unbeaten in preseason play, improving to 2-0-4 with two games left before their first MLS regular season starts. After taking on Vancouver on Saturday to finish off the Cascadia Summit, Portland plays at San Jose against the Earthquakes on March 12 before kicking off the regular season March 19 at Colorado.

It'll be fun to see how the Timbers do early on in their first MLS season, but I'll have my eye on two games in particular — the May 14 match against the Sounders FC at Qwest Field and the July 10 home match against Seattle at PGE Park.

It's a pro sports rivalry, after all … something we've been missing around here.

Sources:

Timbers defeat Seattle 2-0 in Cascadia Summit, Portland Timbers

Schedule, Portland Timbers

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Adam Sparks is a member of the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Updated Saturday, Mar 5, 2011