Yesterday’s announcement that the Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders would be taking part in a pre-season friendly tournament in March turned our thoughts onto the Cascadia Cup.
We mentioned yesterday that whilst we’re looking forward to the three game series at Starfire Sports Complex in Washington, we would prefer it if it doesn’t become a regular pre-season fixture for the Whitecaps. I’d much rather that we played games against Victoria, Edmonton, SFU, UBC and the likes and keep the games against our fierce Cascadia rivals special and for the regular season and playoffs.
Less is more.
I’m going to throw an idea out there though and it’s one that could possibly change my mind about such pre-season fixtures becoming a regular occurance.
In many places, Cup competitions are gathering less importance. In both Scotland and England, the bigger sides couldn’t seem to care less about the League Cup. As an East Fife fan, whose Club are three time League Cup winners, this saddens me. Even the once magical FA Cup has seen a lot of sides field understrength teams in this year’s competition.
With the League being deemed more important, the Cups have suffered and this has led to the fans being jaded about Cup competitions. There’s still nothing like a midweek Cup tie to get my juices going though.
We’re lucky in Canada because the Voyaguers Cup/Canadian Championship games have been well received by the fans here and treated with importance and respect by Vancouver and Toronto players, management and supporters. Montreal were, are and always will be just scum to me. In our USL/NASL days these games meant more to me than a monotonous League campaign.
The US has their US Open Cup. I really don’t know how well it’s received down there but a lot of teams field weakened sides in the early stages. I love it as a competition though. It’s the closest thing we’re likely to have to the FA Cup in North America and a set up I’d love to see in Canada some day.
In the Republic of Cascadia though, we have our own important Cup – The Cascadia Cup.
For the uninitiated, and that’s going to include most of the new MLS Caps, Timbers and Sounders fans, the Cascadia Cup was established in 2004 by the supporters groups of the three Cascadia Clubs (the Vancouver Southsiders, Timbers Army and ECS).
The trophy is awarded each season to the team in the Pacific Northwest with the best regular season record against their bitter rivals. Vancouver Whitecaps have won it three times and the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders both twice.
With the competition the last two years being reduced to just the two sides, it’s going to be nice to have it back to the full quota once again. We should also remind everyone that the last time the three teams competed for it, 2008, the Caps kicked everyone’s butts.
The supporters groups and the fans in general have enjoyed the Cascadia Cup games over the years. It shouldn’t be hard to get the new MLS support on board with the rivalries and excitement that the games bring but it’s not just up to the fans to promote the Cascadia Cup. All three Clubs need to do their part.
What AFTN would like to see is a big focus from all three on the six matches this season. Build it up in the media and matchday programmes and have “Cascadia Cup” printed on the tickets for those particular games. Promote the hell out of it and the rewards will be immense.
There was a lot of talk on the Southsiders forum last year about what we as Whitecaps fans should do about the Heritage Cup. It was pretty unanimous.
The Heritage Cup was established by fans in 2009 for teams that carry on the name of their city’s NASL predecessors. That’s meant Seattle and San Jose have been competing, with Vancouver and Portland now eligible to take part. Except we don’t want to and I believe that the Southsiders board have told the organiser to get tae fuck. Hopefully the ECS and Timbers Army will/have done the same.
It’s pointless when it just adds one more team into the mix of the Cascadia Cup. The San Jose guys would be much better turning it into a California Cup for the three teams there. We have our heritage in the Pacific Northwest and it doesn’t include San Jose v.3.
With regular season matches, Voyageurs Cup, US Open Cup games, Concacaf Champions League, the All Star game and international matches all competing for time and attention in a busy MLS season, it could be easy for something like the Cascadia Cup to get second billing.
I don’t think the fans would let it but as I mentioned long time ago in this blog post, the pre-season friendly tournament announcement got me thinking about the Cup.
In Fife we have the Fife Cup. It’s competed for each season by the four League sides from the Kingdom and a non-league side. It’s pretty much a non event now and more a nuisance trying to fit the extra games in for some clubs. In the 1980’s the Fife FA came up with an excellent pre-season tournament for the Fife Cup. Played over a weekend, with the hosts rotating, there were two semis and a final. The fans loved it, the players loved it, it attracted big crowds (more than regular friendlies got) and it gave the tournament some importance again.
For reasons fully unknown to most, this successful idea was scrapped after three seasons.
Could such a pre-season tournament be used for the Cascadia Cup? There are advantages and disadvantages of making such a move.
Would it make it seem less important if it wasn’t League games that counted towards it?
Playing it pre-season would see the teams playing a whole variety of players and quality. Some could potentially use the matches solely as trial games, but we could limit the number of substitutions used. None of the teams would be warmed up but you could argue that if the MLS gave us early fixtures against our PNW rivals, that would be the same.
On the other hand, would it have added glamour because it was a standalone tournament? A proper international Cup tournament and we could rotate the hosting at the three Clubs.
It’s probably not an idea that wouldn’t go down too well with a lot of the fans but it’s certainly better than Don Garber’s horrendous “rivalry week” idea (more about our thoughts on that in a future blog).
It probably should stay with regular season games, but who knows what lies ahead in the MLS. If nothing else, it would add a bit of competitive and meaningful spark to pre-season. I’d certainly enjoy it and look forward to the pre-season more.
Whatever it’s future, the Cascadia Cup is important and here to stay and I think this year we could see the most fiercely competitive matches for it yet.