When the Portland Thorns players were celebrating their third NWSL Championship with the fans last November, Christine Sinclair felt it was the perfect opportunity to say something. “So I’m announcing it here - I’ll be back next year to win a fourth,” the captain, a legend of this team, proudly proclaimed, before delivering a line that got an even bigger cheer: “And f*ck Seattle!”
The Thorns hadn’t beaten Seattle’s NWSL side, OL Reign, in the Championship game, nor had they met in the previous rounds. But, just like Will Johnson, the Portland Timbers captain that declared the same thing after lifting the MLS Cup in 2015 – also without beating Seattle - Sinclair knew the fans would lap up some slander of the team’s biggest rival.
The feeling across the state border, in Washington, is mutual. Indeed, when GOAL discusses the rivalry with Reign stalwart Lauren Barnes, she pauses and asks someone at the team’s training ground if they want to say something about Portland. That passer-by takes the opportunity up, grabs the phone and states plainly: “We hate Portland.” It’s Laura Harvey, the Reign head coach.
Whether it’s players flipping the bird at opposing fans, match-goers being cheekily heckled by the other team or Megan Rapinoe’s genuine love of getting a hostile reaction while trying to, in her own words, “talk sh*t” at the Portland crowd, this is the NWSL’s biggest and best rivalry.
Better yet, it’s one of the best in the entirety of women’s soccer.