Portland, OR – Seattle Sounders FC and the Portland Timbers are set to do battle on Sunday in one of Major League Soccer's most glowing endorsements.
The Cascadia Cup, involving all three of the league's teams located in the Pacific Northwest, has become one of the crown jewels of MLS, but there will be more than just bragging rights on the line at Jeld-Wen Field.
Both sides are in dire needs of points as Portland is tied for last place in the West and Seattle is without a win in its last six league games.
As if that was not enough, one Portland player in particular is looking to bite the hand that once fed him.
Mike Fucito holds the distinction of being the first player to change sides in the heated Portland-Seattle rivalry, but he was quick to abolish any suggestions that he has a soft spot for the visiting team.
"You're supposed to hate the other team," said Fucito. "These are games you look forward to on the schedule every year. Just the history and the rivalry is very unique and very special, and to be a part of it is a great thing."
The Timbers are coming off a 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy last weekend, a result that snapped the club's four-game unbeaten run.
It is somewhat of a transitional time for Portland. The Rose City club acquired Danny Mwanga from the Philadelphia Union in exchange for Jorge Perlaza, and he is still getting acclimated with Kris Boyd.
Seattle's potent attacking struggled last time out as it needed an acrobatic finish from Patrick Ianni to earn a point in a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.
Despite producing a splendid side-volley in the mold of a seasoned veteran attacker, Ianni stressed that he is not trying to take the scoring responsibilities away from the club's main threats up front.
"I'm not a goalscorer," Ianni said. "Fredy Montero is a goalscorer. Eddie Johnson is a goalscorer. I was happy to get that one back for us.
"It just kind of snuck through to me. I thought, if it comes all the way through, I'm just going to get good contact on it and put it on frame and fortunately it went in."
Seattle will need to put up a sound defensive effort in order to get a positive result from the match - the Sounders have conceded five goals over the past two games.