By JOSE M. ROMERO
One of, if not the hottest, soccer tickets in the world is in Seattle this weekend, where the Sounders will host their biggest Cascadia rivals the Portland Timbers on Sunday.
Ticket sales have surpassed 66,000 for the match, according to a Seattle Times report. CenturyLink Field, already the site of some of the largest soccer crowds for any match in the sport's American history, will be packed once again. And this time, for a regular-season match between a playoff team, the Sounders, and a team just trying to finish the MLS season on an upbeat note, the Timbers.
A sellout, the Sounders first-ever capacity crowd at the downtown stadium, is expected. The crowd will break the record for the largest at a Sounders match — 64,140 came to say goodbye to Kasey Keller last October — and will push the mark for the largest crowd for any soccer match in Seattle history. That was 67,052 against Manchester United last summer.
The Sounders won't get to the record for the largest crowd at any MLS match ever — 69,225 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., to see the inaugural L.A. Galaxy match — but Sunday's crowd could move into second place all-time.
Sunday's game (9 p.m. ET on ESPN) will be at least the sixth match seen live by at least 60,000 fans in Seattle alone. Crowds of 60,000-plus have also turned out for friendlies against FC Barcelona and Chelsea (2009) and earlier this year against the Galaxy.
The Cascadia championship is also on the line. A win for the Timbers will clinch the regional trophy given to the team with the most points among Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, despite the Timbers' underachieving season. If the Sounders win, they'll leapfrog into first place in the Cascadia Cup standings with nine points from six matches against Portland and Vancouver.