The Seattle Sounders (2009), Portland Timbers (2011) and Vancouver Whitecaps (2011) have developed rivalries that have captivated football fans near and far, and the latest instalment of Timbers v Sounders was a captivating, goal-filled affair.
On Saturday afternoon, the two sides went head-to-head in front of another sold out crowd in Portland and finished level at four goals apiece after an action packed 90 minutes.
Back in August of last year, the Sounders, who are a decent price in Betbright’s football odds to take out MLS Cup in 2014, made a massive statement of their intent to dominate the competition with the signing of US football’s Golden Boy Clint Dempsey from Fulham.
“The Deuce” was hampered by injuries towards the tail end of the campaign and was allowed to return to Fulham in January for a loan spell to get his match fitness up.
Dempsey scored a consolation goal in the 2-1 loss to Toronto FC in Round 2 this season but was subsequently give a two-game suspension after being sanctioned for striking Toronto defender Mark Bloom.
The game at Providence Park was his return to the fold and the Designated Player stepped up when needed to score a hat-trick that included a late equaliser from the penalty spot.
The Sounders scored first early on through former Timbers man Kenny Cooper but spent the next hour or so on the back foot as the home side scored four times.
“That point today felt like more than a point,” Dempsey said after the game.
“I think it felt more like a win, and it’s a little bit of a momentum-builder.
“I think our fans appreciated the character that we showed in fighting back and saving face in terms of getting a point — especially coming from two goals back with a mountain to climb.”
Dempsey’s partnership with fellow big name acquisition Obafemi Martins will be key to the Sounders’ season as they look to claim MLS Cup for the first time having taken out the Supporters’ Shield in 2011.
Martins, who previously played for Newcastle United, Internazionale and Birmingham City amongst others, spoke favourably about his partnership with Dempsey and believes that there is much more to come from them.
“It’s what we do even in training,” he said.
“We love playing each other, trying to connect, trying to play well because that’s the chance we have up front.
“This is just the beginning. I hope we’ll play well and play a lot of games together.”
Dempsey, who will be missed when he heads to the World Cup in Brazil with the US national team, echoed those sentiments.
“It’s important to combine well and get that partnership, that relationship, that understanding of where each other is on the field,” he told reporters on Saturday.
The game against Portland was the first time the two forwards have completed 90 minutes together and Sounders fans will no doubt be salivating at the prospect of the partnership getting even better.
While Martins has been primarily known as a goal scorer throughout his career, the 29-year-old has turned to provider and has assisted three of Dempsey’s four goals so far.
“They’ve looked for each other,” says Sounders coach Sigi Schmidt.
“If anything, they’ve maybe looked for each other too much.”
If the relationship continues to yield goals, Schmidt will no doubt let that slide.