Brian Schmetzer may know as much about the Sounders-Timbers rivarly as anyone, given his Seattle roots, his playing days with the NASL Sounders, his seven seasons as coach of the USL Sounders, and now his three seasons as an MLS Sounders assistant.
So, he was a logical guy to talk to about the Seattle-Portland rivalry graduating to MLS at 8 p.m. Saturday at Qwest Field. Some highlights:
Do you think this is the rivalry at its peak?
A: I think it’s peaking. I think the amount of energy and enthusiasm that the Portland fans have brought to an already existing rivalry, to an already- existing and team that has done it first – meaning our fans, our crowd, our record, our Open Cup, our victories – it adds to it. It gives us something to make sure we’re not complacent and we’re continuing trying to push up and onward because there are guys nipping at our heels.
What do you expect Saturday?
A: A hard game. A hard game. You guys have seen enough of (Timbers coach) John Spencer by now to know that he’s going to get his team fired up. I know the mentality of the Portland fans. I know the mentality of Merritt Paulson their owner. And they’re going to be ready to go, they want to beat the big brother, they want to beat the guy up here that’s got 36,000 people, that’s done well, that’s more than enough motivation than anything I can say up here on camera.
How exciting is it to see this rivalry move to MLS?
A: I have been around soccer in this city for a very long time and it gives me chills to know that all the hard work that we’ve done in this area to promote soccer … and to have this come now to fruition, a packed house, enthusiastic fans, quality soccer players, is just fantastic for a guy that was born and raised in Seattle. It’s going to be fantastic.