The Cascadia chorus
Cascadian supporter groups oppose MLS.
The Cascadia Cup is a tangible, physical t r o p h y—n o t unlike Lord Stanley’s—bestowed upon the regular-season victor of all games played amongst the three Cascadian teams in Major League Soccer: The Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, and the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Cup represents the non-official three team ‘tournament’ and is owned by the respective supporter groups. It has a wonderful history of beginning brawls, igniting passion, and giving un-salvageable seasons something to fight for. Recently, MLS commissioner Don Garber filed to trademark the name of the Cascadia Cup, an entity begun by the supporters of the three Pacific Northwest teams circa 2004, prior to any of these teams’ entry into Garber’s league. A rare but beautiful sight, these supporter groups have united over a common cause to reject Major League Soccer’s trademarking attempts.
The Cup was created in 2004, three years before Seattle joined Major League Soccer (MLS) as the first of the three teams to do so. Garber has justified his actions by citing a fear that the Cascadian supporter groups might sell the sponsorship for the Cascadia Cup. By trademarking the Cup, MLS would be able to protect it. But monetizing the Cup isn’t something that has been proposed or even, as far as the public knows, thought of by the Cascadian Cup Council; if it ever were, it would be met with fierce resistance as representing every capitalist idea that this quirky corner of the soccer world despises. For these groups, it’s not about the money or prestige of the cup—it was created simply by people who love their teams, rain or shine.
The understood love for the teams has unified these typically hostile groups to oppose MLS actions to trademark the Cup. In fact, each supporter group has issued an official statement of rejection and the Cascadian Cup Council intends to do the same. As one writer articulates, “The Cascadia Cup preceded MLS. It continued into MLS. If necessary it will survive MLS. The only connection Don Spar Garber or Major League Soccer have to the Cascadia Cup is that the MLS regular season happens to be the competition whose results decide it.”
After these teams issued unanimous statements of rejection, Garber could have simply cancelled the trademark application and fixed the issue he created. Yet he maintains his position of unwarranted fear by contending that “[the supporter groups] can take that trademark and sell it to a promoter. They can produce merchandise that’s not merchandise we would want associated with our teams or with our league.” If Garber truly thinks the supporter groups will buy this plea-of-the-protector and roll over in obedience, he severely underestimates what the Cup means to these groups, and has clearly never witnessed the voracity with which they can carry out a goal.
To the supporter groups, MLS actions are patronizing and look like an obvious way for the league to make money off something that was created, paid for, and has been run by themselves. The Cascadia Cup isn’t a product of the MLS and has no right ever to be. The rivalries between these supporter groups are fierce and exciting, and they bring in country-wide viewership (and money) which should be enough for Garber and MLS. The Cascadia Cup has everything to do with passion and support, and nothing to do with MLS.