The Dynamo's first trip to Vancouver has been a smooth one so far, with the club arriving late Thursday night and training Friday afternoon at Empire Field ahead of Saturday afternoon's match, which kicks off at 6 p.m. CT. The weather is a welcome break from Houston's heat, with temperatures in the high 70s during the day.
Built for roughly $15 million as a temporary venue to host both the Whitecaps and the British Columbia Lions football team until the renovation of BC Place is completed, Empire Field seats about 27,000. The tops of most sections are tarped at the moment, reducing capacity near 21,500, but the interior of the stadium - featuring an artificial turf field and a low roof over each side - feels fairly normal. The facilities and exterior reveal its temporary nature, but as a relatively cheap option in which to spend less than two years, it seems pretty good.
The location cannot compete with Vancouver's eventual home, BC Place, where the Whitecaps are set to begin playing in October. Empire Field is located about 15 minutes east of BC Place, closer to Chinatown than downtown. The Dynamo drove by BC Place - with its distinctive crown-like facade holding up the partially retractable roof - and the adjacent Rogers Centre on the way back from training. Midfielder Geoff Cameron, a die-in-the-wool fan of all things Boston, enjoyed seeing the arena in which his Bruins vanquished the Vancouver Canucks in this year's Stanley Cup Finals.
Training itself was a light, uneventful workout typical of the day before a game. The Dynamo worked on small-sided possession, mixed-range passing, and crossing/finishing. Cam Weaver enjoyed a productive day up front, and Je-Vaughn Watson drew laughs from his teammates near the end of the session. Watson pleaded with head coach Dominic Kinnear for a final shot from the top of the penalty area, and Kinnear obliged on the condition that Watson chase the shot into the stands if he missed (as he had on his previous attempt) and hit the ball with his laces. Watson proceeded to rifle a shot inside the right-hand post and try a unique celebration that had his teammates in stitches.
The Dynamo soon finished the session, with Kinnear and midfielder Brad Davis, who has been getting plenty of attention from several media outlets as an MVP candidate, conducting some interviews with the Vancouver Sun. The final man on the bus was captain Brian Ching, wrapping up an interview with Whitecaps radio outlet TEAM 1410, and the Dynamo were set for the day.
Kinnear should have 20 healthy players on the trip from which to choose Saturday's 18-man roster, with forward Will Bruin and midfielder Danny Cruz the only two players remaining on the injury report. Coverage of Saturday's game begins at 5:30 p.m. CT on SportsTalk 790 and La Ranchera 850 and will begin on television at 6 p.m. on KHOU 11.2.