He’s stood in the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City wearing the red-striped jersey of Chivas de Guadalajara getting ready to face Club America, the most heated matchup in all of Mexican soccer. He wore the green of Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, and watched his side lose to the United States in World Cup qualifying — of course with the score line of 2-0.
And he’s stood in both Providence Park and CenturyLink Field awash in the din of Seattle and Portland getting together.
“It’s almost the same rivalry. It’s the same, I don’t know if it’s hate, but we don’t like each other,” Pineda said. “That’s good. That’s part of the passion and that’s part of the rivalry. I think in the field it’s almost the same. Inside the field it’s almost the same. Every challenge, every 50/50 ball you have to go in very hard and try to (not have) the passion overwhelm you and that’s something you have to watch out too.”
Nearly 40 years to the day of the first meeting between Seattle and Portland professional soccer franchises, the Timbers and Sounders will get reacquainted on Sunday night for the first of three scheduled MLS matches this season.
It’ll be the 89th all-time meeting, dating back to that first matchup on May 2, 1975, in Portland when the two sides were NASL foes. It hasn’t been a consistent 40 years of soccer with lapses when both cities were without their teams.
But when the Timbers and Sounders have been around, other rivalries fall short in comparison.
“Without a doubt, Seattle-Portland is a special game. It’s a special occasion and it’s something you’ve got to see,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “All games are important. The (Western Conference) is so competitive, not just the Cascadia teams, everybody in the West it’s going to be a tight race all year. Every point is important.”
It’s now the fifth season of the Sounders and Timbers both playing in the MLS and the game continues to hold a marquee spot on the schedule to get maximum national exposure. There have been memorable individual moments, wild games and even a playoff meeting between the two sides in the first four years.
Schmid scoffed at the idea that some of the luster has faded from the game.
“It’s still special. It’s like asking somebody from Real Madrid, ‘Is the Barcelona-Madrid game still a special game.’ It’s always going to be a special game and this is going to be a special game forever.”
Unlike some rivalry games where the pace gets slowed and goal scoring chances are rare, Seattle and Portland games have been exceedingly wide open in recent seasons. In the past eight matches over two seasons, Seattle has outscored Portland 17-11.
“I think the games we’ve played against Portland have been exciting games,” Seattle’s Clint Dempsey said. “I think both teams go out and try to win the game and try to impose their style on the other team. So I think it’s always a fun one for the fans to watch.”