Way back at the start of the season, the front offices of the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps met with MLS officials to discuss Cascadia Cup away-ticket allocation for the various supporters groups. The league standard is 150, and supporters groups made it very clear that they would not be satisfied with that. Long story short, the sides settled on 500.
To the average North American sports fan, that may seem like an awful lot of tickets to guarantee to visiting fans. But for Sounders and Timbers supporters, in particular, that is seen as barely a starting point. The Sounders, because they theoretically have another 30,000 or so seats that they could choose to open, are generally painted as the bad guys in all this. Some of the more extreme elements have gone as far as calling it a "sham" and a "disgrace" on various social-media platforms.
At least one high-profile figure has thrown his support behind opening the floodgates to away fans. Alan Hinton, who coached both the NASL and USL versions of the Sounders after standout playing career in England, thinks the concerns over fan violence are way overblown.
"The disappointing thing for me, I don’t personally have a problem with Portland fans getting tickets for several thousand people here because we have the capacity," said Hinton, who still works for the Sounders on their gameday broadcasts. "It disappoints me that they are restricted to 500 pepole. I know why, becuase we they can’t take us down there and vancouver can’t take more than 500 when we go there. But for me the better atmosphere is created by more and more people.
"I know if I were a Sounders player and I could here 5,000-10,000 Portland fans cheering in our stadium, I’d want to stick it to them and would want to play harder. It’s going to be a great crowd, great enthusiasm. It will be a right battle."
It should be noted that the leadership of the various supporters groups seem to have at least called off the dogs and are willing to work on expanding allocation for next year. Keith Hodo, the co-president of Emerald City Supporters, recently told the Seattle Times that they are focused on making sure Saturday's affair goes off without incident:
"We just want to be proactive and remind our members that we have a goal, and that goal is to bring more than 500 people to Portland away and Vancouver away. There's been some behind-the-scenes things that have gone on that have been kind of rough. It'd be nice if we had a little bit more trust and leeway, and by taking a proactive stance it reminds our members that they just shouldn't mess around tomorrow. It's a very serious thing."