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Beyond the Lens - Cascadia Rising

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New trend or one off?

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. 3 cities, 2 countries, 1 common bond. It’s the bio-region known as Cascadia. Through the years and various leagues, the three teams from this bio-region have battled each other as if they were your traditional derby matches.

Since joining the MLS in 2009, Seattle has a history of winning. 4 US Open Cups, 2 Heritage Cups, Cascadia Cups, 1 Supporters Shield and 1 MLS Cup and have, up until the introduction of Atlanta United, held MLS attendance records.

Vancouver followed suit in 2011, starting off at Empire Field while BC Place was renovated. Unfortunately, they have not had the same success as their neighbours to the south, but it should be noted that ownership has taken a different approach.

Portland was the last of the 3 Cascadia teams to join MLS, however, they were the first to claim the MLS Cup in 2015. It also marked the first time all 3 Cascadian teams made the MLS Cup playoffs, and as mentioned above, Portland would triumph. Not to be outdone, Seattle claimed the 2016 MLS Cup.

As expected, the level of banter between Seattle and Portland has been taken up one level with both teams having an MLS Cup to their name. When all else fails, they turn their attention to Vancouver’s lack of an MLS Cup.

With Decision Day 2017 on the horizon, 11 of the 12 available spots have been claimed, with only the 6th seed in the West still up for grabs. We also know that one ofthe Cascadia teams will finish as the #1 seed in the West. The X Factor in this is Sporting Kansas City, who are away to Real Salt Lake.

What does all this mean? There’s too many lingering questions which may take a couple of years to say with any certainty.

Will the Galaxy re-gain former glory and re-assert themselves as a Western power?
Was FC Dallas’ epic Vancouver style summer slide just an abherration?
Are all 3 Cascadia teams that good, or is the entire conference just average?

All we know:
1)Toronto FC has become the first Canadian team to claim the Supporters Shield
2)A Cascadian team will win the Regular Season Western Conference title
3)There will be at least one Western Conference Semi-Final matchup played in Cascadia.

MLS website analyst Matt Doyle and site contributor Alicia Rodriguez have both decided that Vancouver/Portland, the match I’m on my way to see this weekend, is the one they’ll be watching. Doyle for obvious reasons, it’s a derby match, winner gets the #1 seed and perhaps a little payback for last year’s events. Rodriguez has thrown in the Cascadia Cup being up for grabs as well as the #1 seed.

Either way, for the 60K+ people in Cascadia lucky enough to get tickets to Decision Day, it’ll be the most tense 2 hours of their life. Not to mention all those watching in on tv, while trying to keep track of the other game at the same time.

Should be fun.

I will have more reports in the coming days as to what it’s like on the ground in the Rose City as this momentous day nears.