Gio Savarese is anticipating another gripping Cascadia Cup derby between the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers, as games in this fixture “never disappoint.”

The Sounders host the Timbers at Lumen Field on Saturday in the sides’ first meeting of the season.

It is one every fan looks forward to in one of the biggest rivalries in MLS, as Timbers coach Savarese acknowledged.

“They never disappoint,” he said. “Always, both teams have been always competitive.

“These games have gone up and down in so many different ways, but I think what keeps it so interesting is the importance of this rivalry.

“I feel that is probably… I don’t want to say the biggest rivalry but one that stands out in a big way from MLS as one of the most interesting ones.

“I’m very lucky to be part of it. It’s a privilege for me to participate and be part of this rivalry, and we’re looking forward to playing this weekend.”

This edition of the fixture is particularly special for the Sounders, who will mark it by raising their championship banner after becoming the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League.

And Washington-born Sounders midfielder Kelyn Rowe – who says facing Portland brings him “a little pressure”, even if they are “the most fun games” – is relishing the occasion.

“It’s a big one, right? It’s a very emotional game,” he said. “Even if we were just playing Portland, that’s usually an emotional game, because it’s a big rival for us – a Pacific-Northwest rival and Cascadia Cup.

“But the fact that we’re unveiling the banner just adds to that, especially before the game. We know that they’re going to be fired up, because they never want to see that.

“It’s going to be an interesting one; they’re going to come out hot, and we need to make sure that we stay focused on the game at hand and not everything outside of it.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Seattle Sounders – Dylan Teves

Just as Rowe knows how much this game means, so should Teves, a Sounders academy graduate. He marked his first MLS start with a goal in the win against Toronto FC and will hope to get another opportunity on this huge stage.

Portland Timbers – Felipe Mora

Mora is yet to start this season but has returned to action from the bench over the past month and would no doubt love to play a part against the Sounders. He scored one and assisted the other in a 2-0 Timbers win when the teams last met last season.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– The home team have won only two of the past 14 regular season meetings between the Timbers and Sounders (D3 L9), although each team won at home during the 2018 playoffs. Portland are unbeaten in six straight regular season matches at Seattle (W4 D2), the longest such streak at the Sounders in MLS history.

– Seattle’s turnaround continued on Saturday with a 2-0 win at Toronto, the team’s sixth win in their past nine games (D1 L2). The Sounders have yet to put together much defensive consistency, however, as they have not kept clean sheets in consecutive games since May 2021.

– The Timbers enter their match against Seattle on a season-high four-match unbeaten run (W2 D2). Portland have scored multiple goals in each of their past three matches after doing so just four times in their first 16 league games in 2022.

– Raul Ruidiaz has scored 10 goals in 11 MLS games against the Timbers (including playoffs), tied for the most of any player against any single opponent since Ruidiaz debuted in MLS in July 2018 (Carlos Vela – also 10 goals vs LA Galaxy). Ruidiaz has scored at least twice against Portland in all four of his MLS seasons.

– Portland came from 2-0 down in the final 30 minutes to earn a point at Nashville on Sunday. It marked the first time in the club’s MLS history that the Timbers earned a point on the road when trailing by multiple goals in the 60th minute or later, having lost each of the previous 56 such games.