First match of the Cascadia Cup kicks off this weekend

#CapsCupWeek (VIDEO)

The Cascadia Cup represents one of the most passionate derby rivalries in North America. Known for the region of North America that Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland represent, the Cascadia Cup was created by the supporters of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Seattle Sounders FC, and Portland Timbers. Officially founded in 2004, the origins of the cup date back to when all three clubs were members of the United Soccer Leagues First Division. The combined fan-based organizations of the three clubs came together to produce the two-foot-tall silver Cascadia Cup, which is awarded annually to the team with the best head-to-head record in regular season matches between their Pacific Northwest rivals.

Whitecaps FC hold the distinction of winning the first-ever Cascadia Cup title in its founding year. From 2004 until 2008, all three clubs competed for the cup in USL-1 play, with Vancouver raising the cup again in 2005 and 2008, while Seattle claimed the title in 2006 and 2007.

For 2009 and 2010, the Cascadia Cup format was briefly altered following Seattle Sounders FC’s move to MLS. It meant the trophy would be contested solely between the ‘Caps and Timbers for two seasons at the North American second division level. During that period, Portland won their first Cascadia Cup in 2009 before defending their title in 2010.

2011 marked a return to the original three-club format for the competition after Whitecaps FC and the Timbers joined MLS. Fan-based organizations for both clubs renewed their rivalry with Seattle supporters, as the three clubs renewed their derby battles in regular season action. Sounders FC would go on to win their third Cascadia Cup, and their first since 2007, after coming from behind to win away matches in Vancouver and Portland and earning draws against both sides in Seattle. Last season’s success tied Sounders FC with Whitecaps FC for the most Cascadia Cup victories with three each.

With the inclusion of expansion side Montreal Impact into MLS bringing the total number of clubs in the league to 19, a new conference-based schedule was created for 2012, emphasizing local rivalries and increasing the number of head-to-head games played between conference teams to three matches-a-side. The new schedule format means that the Pacific Northwest rivals will now play a differing number of home and away matches this year, with Portland hosting both Vancouver and Seattle twice, Vancouver hosting Seattle twice and Portland once, and Seattle hosting both clubs only once each. Despite the unbalanced number of home and away games, the three fan-based organizations agreed that all regular season matches between the sides will count equally towards determining the 2012 Cascadia Cup winner. In the event of a tie in the standings after all games have been played, the trophy will be awarded to the club with the greatest goal differential in the derby contests.