4,625 miles separate Tyrone Mears’ hometown of Stockport, England and Seattle.
Every club he’s ever played for has been in England (hold a four-match loan spell with Marseille), so moving to the Emerald City is a huge change for the 32-year-old defender.
Despite the adjustment and massive distance between the UK and Seattle, Mears will see a pair of very familiar faces in Houston orange when the Dynamo come to town for Saturday’s match at CenturyLink Field.
In December, the Dynamo hired its second ever Head Coach, as Scotsman Owen Coyle replaced Dominic Kinnear, who moved on to the San Jose Earthquakes following the 2014 season. Coyle, a veteran of the British leagues, spent time managing in the Barclay’s Premier League with Burnley - one of Mears’ former clubs.
“Owen is a top bloke,” said Mears enthusiastically of his former manager. “He brings a lot of enthusiasm. He’s a coach that loves the game, loves playing it. He joins in training. That was my experience when I was with him at Burnley in the Premier League. He just loves to play and coach. He always wants to get the best out of the players.”
Mears played all 38 matches under Coyle for Burnley during the 2009-10 Premier League season, and the pair also spent time together at Bolton in 2011.
Ahead of Saturday’s contest, Mears expects a veteran manager like Coyle to bring a lot of that experience he picked up in the UK to his coaching of the Dynamo - and expects Houston to come right at the Rave Green.
“In the Premier League, on the tactical side of it, everything is really thought out,” Mears said. “I think here you are given a lot more freedom. So I think that can only work to his advantage because he’s a manager that wants his teams to attack.”
Joining Coyle is current Dynamo forward Giles Barnes, a London native and another of Mears’ connections back in his home country. Barnes played with Mears at Derby County from 2007-09 and remains someone the Sounders fullback is close with.
A good working relationship between his two friends Barnes and Coyle is something that Mears expects to flourish as the year goes on.
“He’s a very good friend of mine, and he’ll love Owen Coyle," Mears said of Barnes. "I’m sure he does now. He’s a manager that will love Giles because Giles is always about going forward, doing tricks and beating his man. He loves that.”
With a steady stream of British-born players joining MLS in recent years (English stars Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard being the next names to move stateside), Mears anticipates that number will continue to grow.
“I was a little surprised that Owen did come. I thought he would have stayed in England a little bit longer, but I’m sure that like me, he feels that it’s a good time to be coming to MLS.”
The Sounders and Dynamo kick off from the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field at 7:00 p.m. PT with live television coverage on Q13 FOX.