On this upcoming Tuesday the Portland Timbers will square off against the Houston Dynamo, the team John Spencer coached at prior to joining the Timbers as the head coach in 2011. This time, however, the setting will be a little different as the Timbers help (along with D.C. United three nights before) open BBVA Compass Stadium with their proud new owners the Houston Dynamo. While positive reviews have poured in about the stadium and, true enough it does look lke a great stadium, there's one thing the Timbers will have to watch out for... the heat.
It's true that every home stadium (some more than others) give their home team a slight advantage. From simple things like knowing the field/grass/turf and how the ball will move on it to more advanced things like elevation there's no doubt that facing off against a home team is never easy. Here in Portland we have the lucky combination of an extremely hostile and loud supporters group/crowd as well as the weather. The constant training in rain helps the team acclimate to those conditions when it's a wet, rainy game.
In Houston, the advantage is the heat, something we saw the Timbers struggle with against FC Dallas at the formerly named Pizza Hut Park last year. Houston, however, has one upped their northern neighbors by not including any sort of breezeways in the stadium. In a few words, there will be no air blowing through. How serious of an issue is this? Well, we don't quite yet know, but here's what Houston defender Geoff Cameron had to say about the stadium's heat (care of Dynamo Theory):
"There was some slight breeze at Robertson because there was that hole when you played the game. There is no wind in the new stadium, none. It's an oven, so it kind of sucks for the other team coming in because they're going to die."
I'm not going to rant or complain about this, as some might expect, just like Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids get a slight advantage from being acclimated to training in high elevation, so to should Houston be able to leverage its heat. But this is definitely something the Timbers will have to contend with. Our mild/cold weather here in Portland for all but two months of the season isn't really enough to get the guys used to extreme heats as seen in the southwest United States.
Luckily Tuesday's game isn't slated to be a boiler of a day. Still, I do wonder what the ultimate impact of BBVA's heating issues will have on the Timbers.
What do you guys think of their new stadium and how can the Timbers counter act something like this?