The Houston Dynamo will get their first test of the preseason on Saturday when they travel to Corpus Christi to take on intra-state rival FC Dallas at Whataburger Field, home to the Corpus Christi Hooks, minor league baseball affiliate of the Houston Astros. After successful scrimmages against the Dynamo Academy and Houston Baptist University, Saturday's match will be the Dynamo's first against MLS competition and will be a true measure of where Houston stands after three weeks of training.
“It’s a good test for us,” Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell said. “It’s against an in-state rival, so there is a little more on the line than a regular preseason game. The guys are definitely excited to play on Saturday, because the better you show in preseason, the more likely you are to play in the season.”
This is the second consecutive season the Dynamo have played at Whataburger Field. Last June, Houston defeated the Laredo Heat, 2-1, in front of 6,111 fans. Boswell is excited to return to a city that gave the Dynamo a warm welcome the first time around.
“The crowd came out last year, and I imagine they will come out again,” he said. “Any time you play a preseason game in front of a lot of people, there is always a little more on the line. They always seem to take care of us down in Corpus, and I don’t see it being any different this time.”
Since the San Jose Earthquakes relocated to Houston before the 2006 season, Dallas and Houston have contested one of the pre-eminent rivalries in Major League Soccer. The Dynamo hold a 9-4-6 all-time advantage over Dallas but lost the battle for El Capitán last year after they tied Dallas 1-1 in Frisco but fell 1-0 in the return match at Robertson Stadium. With Houston moving to the Eastern Conference this season, the two teams might not be fighting for a conference title, but each game is still very important.
“I think the fact that we are playing Dallas will make it a big game,” Boswell said. "We always seem to have some great games with them, and our fans have a lot of pride in the Texas battles.”
With six players currently on trial, head coach Dominic Kinnear will have multiple lineup options as he looks to prepare the team for the coming season. Kinnear will balance the need to see the trialists perform against MLS competition and to continue molding his team ahead of the March 19 season opener against Philadelphia.
“We’ll probably see two different teams on Saturday,” Kinnear said. “We will try and mix and match, because it’s not fair to clump all the trialists on one team. I think it’s good to see how they play with the other guys, and we want to make sure everyone has a fair chance and everyone gets playing time.”
Saturday’s match is another example of the Dynamo continuing to build their brand outside of the Houston area. Kinnear appreciates the support Corpus Christi gave the Dynamo last year and is looking forward to the crowd for Saturday's match.
“We had a good crowd last year for that game,” he said. “I think it’s always a good idea to go outside your market and realize you have fans and people who enjoy the game as much as the people in your market. I know some people down there who said they drive up to Houston for every game, and it blew me away because I didn’t realize how far away it was until we made the drive down there. That for me was pretty impressive.”
Tickets for Saturday’s match, which kicks off at 2 p.m., are still available and can be purchased at www.corpuschristihooks.com.