MLS has spent a lot of time in recent years talking about rivalries and building rivalries. In fact, pretty much everything commissioner Don Garber has said with regards to expansion, growing the league, playoff format or scheduling has involved some mention of rivalries and the crown jewel of those rivalries is the Cascadia Cup between the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps.
With the extra attention that rivalries and the Cascadia Cup has gotten, it is one series of match-ups that eyes immediately scanned for when the 2012 MLS schedule was released. Of course, the guys at SBN Nation's Sounders blog Sounder at Heart immediately looked for those Cascadia Cup match-ups and Jeremiah Oshan noticed that it wasn't exactly fair scheduling.
If you sensed that some bad news was coming, too, you were right. How bad it is probably depends on your interest in making sure the Cascadia Cup is as fair as possible. The Sounders will host just two matches against Cascadia Cup opponents at home while playing four on the road. It will be up to the Supporters Groups involved to figure out whether to count all games or not (both ways were used in unbalanced USL years).
That piece of information will, unfortunately, be the piece of news most are talking about today. It's also the one that is likely to come under the most criticism. For all the lip service MLS has paid to rivalries in recent years, it defies commonsense to set up arguably the league's biggest in such an unbalanced way. Assuming these scheduled perpetuate, this potentially sets up a situation where the Sounders will either be an advantage or disadvantage in the three-way rivalry every year. There does not appear to be any obvious reason why the league would choose to schedule it this way.
So why would MLS schedule two home games and four road games for the Sounders instead of making it three home games and three road games for all three teams? That's an outstanding question and it's tough to envision MLS having an exceptionally good reason for this. The league likes to tell fans that rivalries are the priority, but this doesn't exactly scream that, does it?