No homecoming

Patrick Ianni spent three years with the Houston Dynamo, but his first return to the city since being traded during training camp won't distract the versatile defender.

With each passing road game in the 2009 season, another Sounder seems to be returning to their former grounds. Sunday against the Houston Dynamo, that will be the case for Nate Jaqua and Patrick Ianni, who spent two and three years with the Dynamo, respectively.

Jaqua came to Seattle in the expansion draft returning to the Northwest where he grew up in Eugene, Oregon, and played collegiately at University of Oregon. But Ianni’s path was much more immediate. The versatile defender came to Seattle in a trade for a conditional SuperDraft pick and has played a vital role in Seattle’s depth this season.

Moving from the heat of Texas to the Northwest was more of an adjustment for he and his wife Christine off the field than it was for the fourth-year veteran.

“You have to make some adjustments in your personal life, your life away from soccer. Once it comes to soccer it’s a lot of the same,” Ianni said. “No matter what field your on your job is all the same. I don’t think it was a huge adjustment for me, but the Sounders organization made it easy.”

Though he spent the first three years of his pro career there, the trip to Houston is no homecoming for Ianni.

“It’ll be good to go back just for the reason that we need to win,” the UCLA product from Lodi, Calif., said. “They’re on top and we need to stop them. At this point it’s a big game in the season at a critical point in the season.”

The Sounders enter the weekend third in the Western Conference at 8-6-8 (32 points), seven points behind the conference-leading Dynamo (11-6-6, 39 points). And while Seattle got the best of the Dynamo on an unforgettable bicycle-kick goal from Ianni on July 11 at Qwest Field, the two teams that take the field Sunday at Houston’s Robertson Stadium won’t likely much resemble the teams that met that day.

And their July 21 matchup in the US Open Cup – a 2-1 Sounders FC win at Starfire – won’t offer much of a barometer for this week either.

Both sides had several players away with national team duties in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and Houston just added Mexican forward Luis Angel Landin this week. The former Pachuca, Morelia and Cruz Azul striker joins the Dynamo as their first Designated Player.

“It’s definitely a different team for us. They’ve had some guys gone and injured too. No matter who’s on the field between these two teams, this is becoming a rivalry,” Ianni said.

And while the heat is turned up in a rivalry game among two teams battling atop the conference standings, Ianni declined to talk about the mercury at Robertson Stadium.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s 0 degrees or 120 degrees. That can’t even come to our minds. People can be aware of it and prepare, but at the end of the day it’s just about going there and giving every bit of energy we have,” he said.

Kickoff is set for 5:30 and the game can be seen live on KONG 6/16 with radio coverage on 97.3 KIRO FM.

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