The I-5 rivalry has heated up this past season with the Portland Timbers eliminating the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference semifinal playoff series. However, that turned out to just be the beginning.
During the MLS Re-Entry Draft, The Timbers chose to select Steve Zakuani, whose first ever MLS team was none other than Seattle. This move came as a shock to all, since these two clubs are practically arch-rivals.
Zakuani’s most horrific memory was suffering a broken leg against the Colorado Rapids due to a rash tackle from Brian Mullen in 2011. This kept him out of MLS action for 15 months.
Even though he would return to action being fully healthy, he never found his old form or regained the same trust he once had from his coaches and teammates. Therefore, he should feel that a new team is a brand new chapter for him to play at an even higher level. The beauty of playing for Portland is that they are all about playing quickly, utilizing the wings, sending the ball straight down the middle and defending as a team. All of this suits Zakuani’s game.
If he does end up performing well and manages a goal or two against Seattle, this rivalry will be the fiercest in the entire league. The potential is there for the taking, so each player and staff member has to step up to make this game and rivalry mean something. If these clubs play a good game against one another each time, the competitiveness of the entire league could increase as other clubs will begin to form bigger rivalries as well.
This league gets better year by year, so when two teams from around the same region are known as some of the best, there is something special about it. Watching these games could be the very best games to watch by MLS fans.