As Major League Soccer kicks off its season Sunday, the Sounders — who have boasted some of the most talented rosters the league has seen — is still without an MLS Cup. And yet the Portland Timbers have one.

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TUKWILA — So this must be how Peyton Manning felt up until about four weeks ago. Little brother, with half the skill and a 10th of the regular-season success, holding bragging rights over his superstar sibling.

As Major League Soccer kicks off its season Sunday, the Sounders — who have boasted some of the most talented rosters the league has seen — is still without an MLS Cup. And yet the Portland Timbers have one.

To quote a young John McEnroe: “You cannot be serious!”

Portland is supposed to be the Ireland to our England, the San Diego to our L.A. It looks at Seattle with the same envy the Golden Globes have for the Oscars, and we look at it as our cute neighbor we can pet and put in our pockets.

Sounders 2016 Preview

But now, the 503’s soccer fans can taunt the Emerald City’s until the Sounders claim a title of their own — which is unacceptable.

How could this have happened?

“If you could have picked one team not to win it, it would have been the Timbers,” said Seattle defender Brad Evans, whose team will face Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. “Definitely a tough pill to swallow.”

Come on, now. The Sounders’ narrative carries enough heartache as it is. It’s not all that different from those 1990s Sonics teams, really.

Whether it was Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton or Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, you’d look at those rosters and think a championship was imminent. Then the playoffs would come, and year after year that title went from inevitable to unattainable.

Difference here is that the teams winning during those 60-win Sonics years were Michael Jordan’s Bulls and Hakeem Olajuwon’s Rockets. The Timbers? They’re the equivalent to Fat Lever’s Nuggets.

Sure, you can credit Portland’s Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri for being fun to watch, but they aren’t exactly international superstars. And even if they were, they blossomed within the Timbers’ system, unlike Dempsey, who was a hired hand.

Hey, we all know that Portland likes to do things organically, and that’s cool. But when you think about all the soccer celebrities the Sounders have signed, doesn’t the Timbers’ success cut that much deeper?

This was already the most intense rivalry in Major League Soccer, and aside from Washington vs. Oregon football, the biggest between the two states. There will be 60,000 fans at CenturyLink Field when the Timbers come in August, and it’s not hard to figure out why.

Yes, there is the history between the two clubs (Seattle is 7-3-3 vs. Portland since joining MLS), and the obvious proximity factor, too. But Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan may have best explained what draws the Sounders faithful to the stadium when the Timbers are in town.

“We don’t like them,” he said.

Now there’s even more reason not to.

Sunday, Portland will meet the Columbus Crew at 1:30 p.m. At 4 p.m., Seattle will play Kansas City.

And perhaps it’s appropriate that the Sounders will be following the Timbers. Because for the rest of the year, they’re going to be chasing them.

We already know the window may be closing on Seattle’s title chances given Martins’ departure last month and Dempsey being less than a week from his 33rd birthday. Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey has signed young talent and given himself financial flexibility, but you just never know if potential will yield anything concrete.

The proverbial “sense of urgency” would have been close to full throttle for the Sounders regardless of how last year’s MLS final turned out, but when the Timbers won the Cup, the pedal officially hit the floor.

Friday, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid joked that Portland fans “probably have 18,000 chants” prepared for when the Sounders visit in June. Unfortunately, the team is just going to have to endure those barbs until it can match the Timbers’ postseason achievements.

When it comes to MLS Cups, it’s Portland 1, Seattle 0. Sounds funny to say, but this season, the Sounders will be playing for a tie.