Rivalry Hijinks: Timbers tease the Sounders before match
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The salvos are being launched well before Sunday's rivalry game between the Portland Timbers and the Seattle Sounders.
It will be the 100th meeting between the two Pacific Northwest teams, dating back to a rainy May day in 1975 when both teams were in the North American Soccer League.
The Timbers put out a mock-documentary about the rivalry Tuesday, poking fun at Seattle's traffic, the departure of the SuperSonics and even Clint Dempsey's ill-fated attempt at rap . It points out that Portland won its MLS Cup championship before the Sounders got theirs.
Despite the chiding, the Sounders rule the all-time series 50-35-14 across all competitions. There have been many memorable (or notorious) moments, including the U.S. Open Cup match in 2008 when Seattle's Roger Levesque mimicked chopping down a tree after scoring on Portland's field, drawing the ire of fans.
The mockumentary came after the Sounders set up a special (and more serious) website to commemorate the 100th meeting, highlighting mostly Seattle's triumphs, calling it the "most important soccer rivalry in the U.S."
Sunday's match features a pair of teams that had appeared headed in different directions, at least earlier this week.
The Timbers, who went winless in the first five games of the season (all on the road), have won three straight, including last weekend's 1-0 victory at San Jose.
"We've been building exactly for these type of matches," Portland coach Giovanni Savarese said. "Once you build the mentality, once you build the group that wants to play together, we go (in the game) with an idea. But the important thing is, throughout the match, the guys have to be mature and be able to achieve a good result."
The Sounders were struggling with just one victory win this season for last place in the Western Conference, but got a big boost with a 2-1 victory against Toronto on the road Wednesday night. The two teams have met in the MLS Cup finals the past two years.
There's a twist to this Mother's Day match: It will NOT be the first of the annual Cascadia Cup competition.
The Cascadia Cup, invented by fans in 2004, goes to the winner of a three-way rivalry with the Vancouver Whitecaps. It is traditionally awarded on points.
But this season the schedule between the three teams is unbalanced. So the Cascadia Cup Council decided in March that this first match between the Sounders and Timbers would not count. Portland is the defending Cascadia Cup champion.
It will be Savarese's first rivalry match. He joined the Timbers in the offseason after the team parted ways with Caleb Porter.
"For me to have the fortune to be here at this moment, for this game, I'm a lucky person," Savarese said, "because I understand the importance of the match and I understand the importance for the fans and I understand the importance for our season."
MATCH OF THE WEEK: In addition to the match between the Sounders and the Timbers, Atlanta United visits Orlando City on Sunday. The Lions have won a club-record six straight games, including last Sunday's 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake.
Afterward, coach Jason Kreis said Orlando needs to guard against complacency.
"It's about trying to improve week by week. It's also about staying hungry, because the truth of the matter is we've won six games in a row but we haven't won anything at all," Kreis said.
They'll get a challenge in Atlanta, which was unbeaten in seven straight matches, compiling a 7-1-1 record heading into Wednesday night's game against Sporting Kansas City.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Montreal's Ignacio Piatti has been named the league's Player of the Week after getting a goal and three assists last weekend in the Impact's 4-2 victory over the New England Revolution.
The Argentine attacker is tied for the league lead with six total assists this season. He has five goals and is one of just four players this season with a hat trick.
Against the Revolution, he became the third player in team history to reach 100 career MLS games.
ALTIDORE OUT: Toronto forward Jozy Altidore had surgery Tuesday to remove bone fragments from his foot. He is expected to miss four to six weeks. Altidore has five goals in 11 appearances this season. He scored his 50th goal for Toronto in March.
ROONEY RUMOR: The Washington Post reports that D.C. United is in discussions to acquire English striker Wayne Rooney.
Rooney, 32, spent last season with Everton after 13 memorable seasons with Manchester United. He is the top career scorer for England's national team, with 53 goals in 119 appearances from 2003 to 2016.
He has a year left on his contract with Everton. The transfer window opens July 10.
This story corrects that the Timbers went winless in the first five games of the season, not lost the first five.