Sounders FC assistant coach Brian Schmetzer has been on Seattle teams battling Portland in the North American Soccer League, United Soccer Leagues and now Major League Soccer.

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TUKWILA — Sibling rivalry.

That’s how Sounders FC assistant coach Brian Schmetzer put into context the massive Seattle-Portland bout Saturday, the first MLS game between the Cascadia foes.

“They want to beat the big brother,” said Schmetzer of the Timbers. “They want to beat the guy up here that’s got 36,000 people, that’s done well.”

If anyone has experienced the regional rivalry long enough to label Portland as the little brother, it’s Schmetzer.

The Seattle native signed with the Sounders of the North American Soccer League in 1980 upon graduating from Nathan Hale High School. He also coached the Sounders in the United Soccer Leagues from 2002 through 2008.

Despite decades of storied history, Schmetzer thinks the Seattle-Portland rivalry is peaking now.

“It gives me chills to know that all the hard work and sacrifice that we’ve done in this area to promote soccer … (has) come now to fruition,” he said. “To have a packed house, enthusiastic fans and quality soccer players is just fantastic for a guy that was born and raised in Seattle.”

Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said the importance of the weekend’s game has been easy to spot in Schmetzer’s demeanor. Same goes for goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra, an Olympia native who also played for and helped coach the USL Sounders.

“I can definitely see their energy and the bounce in their step,” Schmid said, “and I know they want to see us win this game as much as anything.”

Pride on the line

Goalkeeper Kasey Keller said rivalry games can be fun, but only when you’re successful.

Sounders FC fans appear to agree.

In a nonscientific poll on The Seattle Times’ website, more than 80 percent of voters said they would sacrifice a point in the MLS league standings to ensure a win against Portland on Saturday night at Qwest Field.

Notes

Fredy Montero replaced the cast on his right wrist with a brace Wednesday. The Sounders FC forward revealed the news, along with a photo, on his Twitter account.

• Seattle is 1-4-7 all-time in the month of May.

• Sounders FC defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Portland Timbers forward Jorge Perlaza are cousins.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com