After arriving in Texas on Sunday, the Timbers should feel right at home when they step on the pitch for the first night game at the newly christened BBVA Compass Stadium on Tuesday to face the Houston Dynamo (5:30pm PT, ROOT SPORTS, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940 AM). Well, maybe not at home, but not shockingly dissimilar to playing at JELD-WEN Field.
Of course, the Timbers Army won’t be there en masse as usual and the majority of the stadium will be cheering against the men in green, but the stadium is expected to be full and rowdy just as it was on Sunday when the Dynamo earned a 1-0 win over D.C. United in their first game at the new stadium – something that should create a measure of comfort for the Timbers, certainly being used to lots of noise at home.
WATCH: Timbers get first look at new HOU stadium
The experience should be welcome for a team like the Timbers, who are accustomed to playing in front of a packed house every home game and went through the excitement of opening a newly renovated facility last year – riding the excitement to a 5-game, home-winning streak to start the season. On a personal side, defender Mike Chabala and midfielder/defender Lovel Palmer, as well as head coach John Spencer and goalkeeper coach Mike Toshack – all of whom spent time with the Texas club – are eagerly awaiting Tuesday’s match.
“I think for (head coach) Dominic (Kinnear) and the players that have been there for a number of years, it’s long overdue,” Spencer said last week. “I think they’ve been looking for land for a number of years, even when I was there. Eventually, they built an unbelievable stadium. I’m looking forward to seeing it.”
Chabala, who spent 5 ½ years with the Dynamo, echoed Spencer’s sentiment that the new stadium is long overdue for the club, while Palmer added that seeing the new grounds is something he’s been anticipating all week.
The $95 million grounds, one of three brand new soccer-specific stadiums opened around the league since 2010, will eventually be serviced by Houston’s metro light rail line in four years. The stadium features a unique architectural design of expanded metal mesh meant to reflect the area’s industrial heritage with a tight and intimate feel to the inside of the stadium. Coupled with the ultra-modern design is a tip-of-the-hat to the team’s past with 16 distinct pillars throughout the stadium honoring current and former players.
Players past and present honored by the pillars include Dwayne De Rosario (helped Houston win back-to-back MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007), Dynamo assistant coach Wade Barrett and U.S. National Team member Stu Holden.
Spencer served as an assistant coach with Houston from 2006-2010, while Toshack was goalkeeper coach with the Dynamo from 2006-2009.
“Mike Toshack and I have a little, tiny percent that we contributed to getting that stadium,” Spencer said. “It’ll be nice to get down there and see it.”