Pro sports in the Northwest have taken a bit of a dip these past few years, with no team really emerging as a favorite in their league. Both Portland franchises (Blazers and Timbers) are in rebuilding, the Mariners seem to always be rebuilding, the Seahawks have a rookie leading their team and complete uncertainty, and the Sounders are in a top-heavy league with a tiny salary.
But this leads to the question of who turns the corner first.Which NW pro team wins the next title? Blazers, Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders, Timbers
Alex Shoemaker (Sports Editor)
This debate can be narrowed down quickly by eliminating the two teams that have no chance: Timbers and Mariners. Portland is in complete disarray and has shown no signs of turning the page. They don’t even have a long-term coach. The Mariners have even less chance. While the team has made a nice push in late-August, this team has been the laughing stock of major league baseball for the past decade.
That narrows it down to three: Blazers, Seahawks and Sounders. A case can be made for all three, but one stands out above the rest. Football is the most challenging for a franchise to win a title, because it’s a complete team game. Seattle needs too many parts to be an elite team. And the Sounders? They can’t keep up with the deep pockets of the New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy whose payrolls are nearly three times larger.
That leaves the Blazers. Basketball is the easiest sport for a franchise to rebound. Two superstars can make a team elite. Portland has one in Lamarcus Aldridge, and just needs an all-star point guard to be a top-5 team. If Damian Lillard can be that guy, the Blazers will be the next NW team to win a title.
Being a sports fan in the Pacific Northwest is not an easy task. Out of the five professional teams in the region, the Portland Trail Blazers are the last to win a championship back in 1977. Between the Blazers, Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders and Timbers, the Sounders are the most realistic team to win the next championship for the region. While the Sounders aren’t an elite MLS team as of yet, they are closer to a championship than any of the other teams. In 2009, the Sounders reached the MLS Cup playoffs in their inaugural season.
They have reached the postseason in every year of their existence, and are currently in position for a fourth straight postseason birth. In 2011, the Sounders won their third straight U.S. Open Cup, the first team to do so in 42 years. They are poised for another playoff run this year and seem to be the Pacific Northwest’s best hope for a championship.
With all the great teams, leagues and sports in America, the northwestern hemisphere of the map doesn’t always get the respect that is deserved. The Seattle Seahawks reaching the SuperBowl a few years ago is almost forgotten and the Portland Trailblazers championship hopes have been on pause since Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals in 2000.
If any of the Northwest professional teams were to win a championship in their sport next, it would have to be the three-time U.S. Open Cup MLS champion Seattle Sounders. Although not as nationally recognized as the Blazers and Seahawks, the Sounders are looking to win a fourth consecutive Cup and the odds may be in their favor. The Seahawks are starting rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, which promises more ups and downs before a Super Bowl and meanwhile the Blazers are young and promising, but far from legit NBA title contenders. If any team brings a title home to the northwest anytime soon it would definitely be the Sounders.
If you’re reading this article with enthusiastic anticipation of a professional championship coming to the Northwest – don’t hold your breath. I think it will be a long time before any of the five major sports teams from our region get to that level. Ok, so the Sounders are currently in second place in the MLS Western Conference, but it’s soccer for crying out loud, where ties are almost as common as 1-0 games, so predicting a champion is about as easy as trying to guess which uniform combination the Ducks will roll out next. Seattle’s other pro teams, the Seahawks and Mariners, are even longer shots in football and baseball, respectively.
Then there are Portland’s franchises, the Timbers (MLS), and the Trailblazers (NBA). Just a few short years ago it appeared the Blazers were on the verge of a young dynasty. Then Greg Oden and Brandon Roy’s knees gave out, and now they too are rebuilding. So, who will win it all first? I’ll have to go with the Sounders in, say, five years. You can exhale now.
Leave your comment below on who you think wins the next title! Make sure to vote and join in on the debate! Blazers, Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders or Timbers? You decide…