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March 29, 2014 10:59 PM   Subscribe

Burn, Destroy, Wreck, Kill - SB Nation reports from the inside of the fan culture of the biggest rivalry in the MLS, the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers. The rivalry game between the two cities is on April 5th.
posted by Punkey (46 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Folks interested in MLS fandom, MLS in the Pacific Northwest, and this MLS rivalry will probably also enjoy TIFO: Inside the Timbers Army. Now someone crank up the Tetris music, it's time for futbol!
posted by trackofalljades at 11:26 PM on March 29


I am in Vancouver and I gotta hand it to Seattle--you guys know how to support a team. I went to Seattle for a Whitecaps game and holy shit did they pack it in. An NFL stadium, pretty much full. The only thing we had was a little section in the top corner and a chant: one of our guys went down and the Whitecaps fans all yelled "we have health care!"
posted by Hoopo at 11:27 PM on March 29 [29 favorites]


Whitecaps supporter here, Southsider.

That is a weird article tho. Read the comments to see some of the criticism that the ECS and Timbers Army supporters level against the writer.

The atmosphere at all three Cascadia stadiums is excellent by any league standards, not just MLS. We're proud of the rivalry and the fierceness, and the history which goes back 40 years. There is a lot to the story, especially the story between Seattle and Portland but the writer took a weird angle on it.
posted by salishsea at 11:51 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


I'm in the ECS, and cannot wait for next weekend's match. I ordered my ticket a month ago.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:22 AM on March 30


For those new to the scene, this type of game is called a "derby" (pronounced "darby"). Generally they involve local or regional teams. The proto-derby in the MLS was San Jose and Los Angeles. The Mexico-USA games can also be considered derby's. Notable derby's around the world are Manchester United and Manchester City, Inter and AC Milan, and Barcelona and Espanyol.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:02 AM on March 30


I'm sure it's exaggerated for journalistic effect, but both sets of fans come off as assholes.

It's a game, people. It shouldn't be your life.
posted by madajb at 2:08 AM on March 30 [4 favorites]


I've been to games at both stadiums. Soccer fans are just tedious. If you're not 199% into the game, you are just some kind of jerk.

This is why I love going to baseball games for the most part. It's slow and steady, a great place to talk with someone while casually drinking a beer and eating a dog.

Soccer games I feel one needs to have 2-3 pots of coffee and as many packs of cigarettes before the match just to get started.

It's a fucking game, settle down.
posted by efalk at 2:23 AM on March 30 [7 favorites]


a great place to talk with someone while casually drinking a beer and eating a dog

strangely, efalk, the ballgame you mention is pretty much the reason I don't like going to MLB games, and was kind of embarrassed when I took my Japanese father-in-law to a White Sox game.* Barely anyone was actually paying attention to the game, even though it was actually a pretty amazing pitchers duel. Mostly just drunk people lazily hitting on each other.

Articles like this makes me want to get out my Marines jersey and head to the stadium next week. If you ever come to Japan, and you want to experience serious, die-hard fans, but with absolutely zero boorishness, go to a Japanese baseball game (just... not the Giants. Fuck them). The outfield fans are where you get the guys with the trumpets and drums, where everyone knows all the songs for every batter (most guys have at least one song of their own, along with insert-name-here chants, the most popular guys have three to four songs) and stands while their team is at bat, chanting, singing, jumping up and down. Then, when the visiting team is at bat, the home fans sit, the visiting fans do their cheering thing, and so on. No hostility, no fighting. At the end of the game, the fans clean the area around their seats and take their garbage to the stadium staff who are holding large garbage bags. These are serious fans, totally committed to the team, yet there is no dickish behavior, no holier-than-thou/no-true-fan obnoxiousness, unless I get drunk enough and there's an American player from the visiting team within earshot. I like to give them a little feeling of back home.

Also, beer. The beer is served by nice young people carrying small kegs on their backs, pouring fresh delicious draft beer. They'll even leave off the foam (which Japanese people seem to like) if you ask nicely.

*It wasn't my fault, the Cubs, Brewers, hell, even the Tigers were out of town.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:43 AM on March 30 [10 favorites]


I've been to games at both stadiums. Soccer fans are just tedious. If you're not 199% into the game, you are just some kind of jerk.

Well, yeah. Football isn't a matter of life and death; it's more important than that. And American fans are still finding their own culture, which means that there can be a bit of overcompensation to make up for the lack of tradition.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:07 AM on March 30 [7 favorites]


My only experience with a batch of Sounders FC fans was when they invaded the Sound Transit 522 express between Lake City and the stadium district. Sound Transit buses are painted primarily white but this particular one had a light green advertisement wrapped around most of it. The Sounders fans gave the driver shit for showing up in "Timbers colors" and loudly sang Sounders songs/chants/imprecations the whole trip downtown.

efalk: "I've been to games at both stadiums. Soccer fans are just tedious. If you're not 199% into the game, you are just some kind of jerk."

So, basically, this except that I've never been to a match.
posted by fireoyster at 3:17 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I have been observing the Timners-Sounders fan rivalry from afar for several years now and would go so far as to say that it is the best rivalry in professional sports in North America, surpassing even the more well known rivalry between Yankee & Red Sox fans,
posted by KingEdRa at 3:25 AM on March 30 [2 favorites]


I hate sports, they are so pedestrian. Contrivances like Game of Thrones whose outcome is pre-determined are so much better.

Wait, no, I mean I like both for different reasons.
posted by vapidave at 5:06 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Martin's right on about the US scene. I'm right in the middle of Philadelphia Union country (literally about 10 mins from the stadium). I only made it to one game last year; hope to do more. My experience was terrific - went with a family-oriented booster group (Sons of Benjamin West) that has a good-sized block; great tailgate and then we were treated to a terrific game decided in the 89th minute on a direct free kick.

My impression was that most of the fans were either families with kids who played, or young adults who played in high school or college. Had we been playing NY or DC, I expect I'd have seen a rowdier crowd, but they were enthusiastic and understood the game. In order to develop a real rivalry (which is box office gold, baby!), the Union have to play some games that count against one of the regional teams (NY, DC). If this happens and we develop a few more loud-mouthed, face-painting, beer-guzzling fans, well that's OK with me - sports is a welcome release from the (ok, somewhat tenuous and provisional to begin with) bounds of taste and decency; let 'em have their fun.
posted by Mister_A at 5:56 AM on March 30


I have been observing the Timners-Sounders fan rivalry from afar for several years now and would go so far as to say that it is the best rivalry in professional sports in North America, surpassing even the more well known rivalry between Yankee & Red Sox fans,

The weird thing is that I just lived in Seattle for five years and I never heard a whisper of this rivalry. I mean, I knew Sounders fans were passionate, but I has no idea there was a rivalry with Portland.

Whereas I doubt anyone could live in Boston for more than a few weeks without knowing about the Red Sox - Yankees rivalry.
posted by lunasol at 6:04 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Build a bonfire
Build a bonfire
Make sure the area is cleared of brush
Put it out when your finished
Make the beach
A safer place
Bad Chants: Our favorite Cascadia derby Twitter meme
posted by grouse at 6:04 AM on March 30 [5 favorites]


We went to MLS Cup in Seattle in 2009. We won the trip in a sweepstakes. Our team was knocked out in an earlier round, but we had a great time. People were nice, shared their bar tables and even beer tabs. The marching band was a hoot and I drank the best in-stadium beers I've ever had.

At the time there was a lot said about the rise of the Sounders filling a gap left by the departed Sonics. Whatever the reasons, MLS fan culture is turning into something fun. There are jerks everywhere, but mostly this stuff is healthy and in good fun.

I can afford to be magnanimous today. My team got 3 points at CenturyLink last night.
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:29 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


go to a Japanese baseball game (just... not the Giants. Fuck them)

Hey, that works for US baseball too!

Go Dodgers!
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:07 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Now if only the league could reduce what should have been a mandatory three-game suspension against a nationally-recognizable player for literally punching an opponent in the testicles in a fit of rage, just so he might play in and thereby better publicize this match, soccer in America might really start getting somewhere...
posted by 7segment at 8:08 AM on March 30 [2 favorites]


You forgot the Stoke v. Port Vale derby.
posted by josher71 at 8:10 AM on March 30


So what if the last one was in 2002? Ahem.
posted by josher71 at 8:11 AM on March 30


I've never understood sports tribalism, so I'm looking forward to the article as another piece of that puzzle. Even though I grew up in a sports-mad NYC (the Amazin' Mets, Namath's Jets, Knicks/Celtics/Lakers, etc., etc.), I don't get the identification/investment that inspires people to paint their faces and wear Ovechkin jerseys on the Metro. Not to mention slapping as much [Washington football team] merch on/in your car as will fit and still allow you--mostly--to drive.
posted by the sobsister at 8:24 AM on March 30


I've never understood sports tribalism

Sports fandom is inherently irrational. That being said, I'm a huge sports fan.
posted by josher71 at 8:33 AM on March 30


This is why I love going to baseball games for the most part. It's slow and steady, a great place to talk with someone while casually drinking a beer and eating a dog.

Please just stay home. It's incredibly irritating to be at a game and have to listen to people talk about their retirement accounts or whatever through the whole thing, not to mention the ones who glare at me when I'm yelling at the umps or an opposing player. Having a beer and a hotdog is a whole lot cheaper anywhere but a major league game anyway.
posted by rtha at 8:42 AM on March 30 [3 favorites]


I can afford to be magnanimous today. My team got 3 points at CenturyLink last night.

And what a finish it was! Sounders games can be pretty uncomfortable as a visiting fan-we were continuously verbally abused at the Sounders-Crew game a few years ago when the Sounders won 6-2 and haven't been back. We don't have children but the atmosphere at Crew Stadium is WAY more family friendly, which I really like. I think you'd have to be insane to take your kid to an NFL game these days, Sounders not far from that. I've seen the Indians six or eight times at Safeco and everyone is friendly, and Trailblazers fans are always totally nice when I go down for the Cavs game every winter.
posted by Kwine at 11:05 AM on March 30


Sports fandom is inherently irrational.

Not to be all FTFY, but, you know.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:11 AM on March 30


This just strikes me as a pale imitation of European football culture. I understand that there isn't the history of football in America as there is elsewhere but at least try to come up with something original.
posted by MikeMc at 11:15 AM on March 30


but at least try to come up with something original.

Like what?
posted by Chutzler at 11:37 AM on March 30 [2 favorites]


This just strikes me as a pale imitation of European football culture. I understand that there isn't the history of football in America as there is elsewhere but at least try to come up with something original.

Do they have any big lumberjacks sawing a disc of timber off a tree trunk after every goal?
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:40 AM on March 30 [6 favorites]


"Like what?"

Mass juggling?
posted by MikeMc at 11:43 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


The weird thing is that I just lived in Seattle for five years and I never heard a whisper of this rivalry. Whereas I doubt anyone could live in Boston for more than a few weeks without knowing about the Red Sox - Yankees rivalry.

I said it was the best rivalry and even acknowledged that Yankees-Red Sox was more well known. The Yanks=Sox rivalry is overhyped and wearisome at this point (if you're not a fan of the teams), whereas I'm not even a fan of the Sounders or Timbers, or MLS in general, yet I always watch a Sounders-Timbers match up when one's on national TV just because of the energy in the stands.

Getting someone to watch who isn't even a fan of either team or the league they play in? Now THAT'S a rivalry.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:59 AM on March 30


We always get this ridiculous comment at some point in these threads "you're just a cheap imitation of European soccer culture."

Supporter culture world wide is a doll culture. It builds on and borrows and steals and imitates everywhere. In England almost every terrace will ring out with a clever Sloop John B. They steal each other's chants and tifo all the time. In countries all over the world fans hold their scarves up to welcome their teams. When you participate in supporter culture you are actually participating in something that is bigger than the nationalistic tribalism that awards world championships in sports that no one else plays.

Those who dismiss supporter culture in the uS and Canada or who just see as as boorish jerks or worse, hooligans, are either basing their assumptions on one bad experience or don't know what they are talking about.

In Vancouver we do all kinds of original stuff. We have original and unique songs and tifo. We also borrow and steal ideas from other places. One of our best chants comes from a supporters group in Japan and others are lifted from Germany, Chile, Scotland, Spain and England. We steal the tunes change the lyrics and sing our hearts out. Just like everyone else does.

We are rabid and MLS teams make space for is and they make space for families too. You can go to a match and chat about business deals or fall asleep and we really don't care. Our expression of fandom is not a condemnation of your expression of fandom.

Come or don't come. Join us or stay at the other end of the pitch. But don't base your judgements of supporters culture on articles like the FPP or pre conceived assumptions about what it is. You'll just end up having a bad time.
posted by salishsea at 12:15 PM on March 30 [16 favorites]


I'll second what sailshsea said. Well put.
posted by putzface_dickman at 5:31 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


"It's incredibly irritating to be at a game and have to listen to people talk about their retirement accounts or whatever through the whole thing, not to mention the ones who glare at me when I'm yelling at the umps or an opposing player."

Our season tickets one year were next to some seats belonging to some firm or another. If it wasn't some bro's talking about work and validating each other is was some chicks talking about work and validating each other. Loudly. And neither group could tell a third strike from third base.

Frankly I'd settle if they would just put "Take me out to the ballpark" back in the seventh inning stretch in MLB games.
posted by vapidave at 6:46 PM on March 30


Frankly I'd settle if they would just put "Take me out to the ballpark" back in the seventh inning stretch in MLB games.

What?! What blasphemous place is this not happening? We sang it at every Giants game - Sundays, too - the last howevermany years we've gone.
posted by rtha at 9:31 PM on March 30


Supporter culture world wide is a doll culture. It builds on and borrows and steals and imitates everywhere.

Clearly you've never heard "Seven Nation Army" in the original Dutch.
posted by asterix at 10:07 PM on March 30 [4 favorites]


but at least try to come up with something original.<>

Seattle Sounders FC has a marching band.

Plus, the supporters sing Perry Como at every match. You haven't lived until you've heard 5 000 people belt out Perry Como at a soccer match.

PERRY COMO.

posted by spinifex23 at 12:19 AM on March 31


You can go to a match and chat about business deals or fall asleep and we really don't care.

I don't recommend trying this in the Brougham End general admission section, home of the Emerald City Supporters.
posted by grouse at 6:34 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


I am in Vancouver and I gotta hand it to Seattle--you guys know how to support a team. I went to Seattle for a Whitecaps game and holy shit did they pack it in. An NFL stadium, pretty much full. The only thing we had was a little section in the top corner and a chant: one of our guys went down and the Whitecaps fans all yelled "we have health care!"

I sent this to my husband (we are both low-key Sounders fans, we never miss a match but we watch them on TV) and he responded "Crap. Advantage Canada, yet again."
posted by KathrynT at 10:12 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


That is one of my favourite chants to sing at away matches. Also against Seattle we often get going a rousing chorus of "you have X-box, we have girlfriends." Referring to the Sounders' shirt sponsors. It is doubly powerful when the women are signing it too!
posted by salishsea at 11:17 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Those who dismiss supporter culture in the uS and Canada

I like it for the most part, it's fun and this City could use some actually fun and passionate fans that don't burn cars. But there is one point I do dismiss the supporter culture on. I get that a lot fo the songs and chants and things are borrowed from other supporters around the world, but there is no need to put on a fake accent to sing your song. I've heard this happen sometimes in Doolin's on game days and it makes me cringe. Also the guys who yell "we shagged your wife" at the goalkeeper every time he kicks the ball. First off, that's a bit rude. I'd like to bring my daughter there someday when she's a bit older and don't really want to explain that. Second, "shagged"? What are you, Austin Powers? No one uses that word in Canada, it sounds silly.
posted by Hoopo at 11:32 AM on March 31


Yeah. Agreed. I don't sing chants that are personally aimed at the opposition. But that happens everywhere and in every team sport. And it doesn't just happen in supporters sections. The shagged your wife bit is added to the end if the "you fat bastard" chant on goal kicks by the odd idiot.

But it is what it is. Organic, passionate a little rude. My son has stood in the Southside since he was 9. He is no stranger to rude language. He's turned out okay and is a kind young man, not made any worse from hearing some drunken idiot using the c word to describe a referee.

In Vancouver, the family friendly section is on the other end of the ground. You won't hear much if the solo invective from there. And the supporters groups generally stay away from too much profanity.

Except for the fact that we are blue and white and fucking dynamite.
posted by salishsea at 12:37 PM on March 31


I have been a Clash/Earthquakes fan since day one (actually before that, in the long dark after the NASL, when we watched the SF Bay Blackhawks play at high school stadiums), and I love the rabid support in Seattle and Portland. I only hope our new stadium can approach the atmosphere up there.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:38 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


This just strikes me as a pale imitation of European football culture.

Not enough Nazis?
posted by banshee at 1:26 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


"You have healthcare, we have bombs, doo dah, doo dah, you have healthcare, we have bombs, all the doo dah day."
posted by spinifex23 at 8:12 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


vapidave: "Frankly I'd settle if they would just put "Take me out to the ballpark" back in the seventh inning stretch in MLB games."

Still play it at Pirate games.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:12 PM on April 3


If anyone is interested, the match ended in a 4-4 tie, with a hat trick by Clint Dempsey for the Sounders.

What a fantastic match to attend!
posted by spinifex23 at 3:49 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


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