Sounders FC @ Houston Dynamo
August 17, 2013, 6 pm PT; BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston
TV/Radio: KONG 6/16; No English Radio; KOMO2 (Spanish); La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish); MLS Live (Online outside the Seattle area)
Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was the rampant fanbase that had been waiting for a stadium they could call their own. Or just maybe the Dynamo is that good.
Whatever the reason, the Houston Dynamo went on a rampage of a 22-match unbeaten streak at BBVA Compass Stadium from when the park opened in May of 2012 until the streak was halted by Sporting Kansas City this May.
Since that beast was tamed, Houston is just 2-2-2 at home and Sounders are hoping they caught the Dynamo at the right time as they head into their first match at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday when they face Houston for the only time this season.
On Friday before training, most of the team got their first look at the new stadium when they did a brief walk-through of the stadium, taking a look at the visiting locker room and the pitch to get a sense for what they will see on Saturday.
“It looks nice. The surface looks very good,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “If you can’t grow grass here, you’ve got to hand in your horticulture degree.”
The 22,039-seat stadium has another distinct advantage for the Dynamo – a compacted field.
While Sounders FC plays on a pitch measuring 116 yards long and 75 yards wide, the Dynamo home park is just 115 yards long and 70 yards wide. The narrow park plays into Houston’s physical style they have historically played – and succeeded greatly with, reaching the MLS Cup final in each of the last two years.
“It makes it a little tighter. Houston’s an aggressive team, so it’s going to be a battle,” forward Lamar Neagle said. “I think it’s good for us and good for our character right now.”
Seattle has a history of finding victory in seemingly unwinnable environments, too.
In 2009, they ended the Columbus Crew’s 22-match home unbeaten streak. In 2011, they did the same to Real Salt Lake, snapping a 29-match streak of home dominance at Rio Tinto Stadium. They weren’t done there though. They also became just the second MLS team to win in Mexico when they topped Monterrey 1-0 to hand them their first Champions League loss in 12 matches. They then went on to give Sporting Kansas City their first loss at Sporting Park with a dramatic 2-1 win.