The Houston Dynamo trained at AT&T Park on Friday afternoon in preparation for their Saturday match against the San Jose Earthquakes (4 p.m. CT, Fox Sports Houston Plus). The Dynamo have played in San Francisco before, but never at AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants. In 2008 and 2010 the Dynamo played the Earthquakes in preseason exhibition games at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park.
Several Dynamo players and coaches have connections to the Bay Area or the Earthquakes, including forwards Brian Ching and Cam Weaver and midfielder Brad Davis. Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear, and coaches Wade Barrett and Tim Hanley have all played for San Jose clubs in the past while Kinnear and Hanley have both coached on the Earthquakes staff.
Ching also played for the U.S. men’s national team in a 3-2 friendly win over Japan at AT&T Park on Feb. 10, 2006. Another Dynamo player with ties to the area is forward Calen Carr, who grew up in nearby Berkeley and played soccer at Cal.
The group offered their thoughts on Friday’s training session as well as a look towards Saturday’s first-ever MLS match at the baseball stadium on the shores of the San Francisco Bay. The praise for the playing surface was unanimous after the club tested the pitch during the rain-soaked training session. Below is a sampling of their responses.
Head Coach Dominic Kinnear: “It is a nice stadium and the field is in great shape. Obviously it depends on the weather. If it rains a lot it will slow things down a bit, so we will see how it is going to play.”
Goalkeepers Coach Tim Hanley: “I am a baseball fan and I am a Giants fan. My two boys are real Giants fans, so I took a couple pictures on the field after practice and sent them to my son, who plays in college. I wish I could trade places with them.”
“There have been games up here in San Francisco before. San Jose already has great fans; this is just another opportunity to expose the game to a few more people. A lot of people from San Jose will come up here; the train stops right out front.”
“The Earthquakes will play the Galaxy at Stanford this year, and this is a great idea as it exposes soccer to different markets. It is probably a little bit harder for the Earthquakes than us because they have to go outside of their house and won’t be able to play in a place where they are so comfortable. It is exciting for us, and for Quakes fans, and maybe some new fans.”
Dynamo forward Brian Ching: “I have been to the stadium as a fan and once with the U.S. men’s national team. The crowd was fantastic and I am really looking to a different venue- one of the great venues in baseball. I think the guys are excited, it is something new, there is going to be a lot of fans and we are looking forward to it. “
“The stadium is a treat to be a part of. To be able to come back here and play a soccer game in San Francisco is something I am really looking forward to. “
“The field is good- the grass is the right length, especially if it is going to be a really wet field. You are always nervous when you come to a venue that doesn’t host soccer events very often, but I think the grounds crew has done a fantastic job and it is going to be a great field for soccer.”
Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis: “It is pretty neat being right here on the water. It will be a fun game with a fun atmosphere. I think it excites the fans too, so we are looking forward to the game and playing in this park.”
“I think it will be good for the fans. More people will be able to come (than the smaller Buck Shaw Stadium) and it is exciting for the Dynamo and the Earthquakes. I think it is something that the fans really grasp- it is just a different venue and a different atmosphere.”
“The field is going to be fine. Hopefully the rain will hold off. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem at all. I think they did a great job of laying the sod.”
Dynamo assistant coach Wade Barrett: “The stadium is beautiful and the field is in good shape. I think it is exciting that we get to play the game in San Francisco. The Quakes have a great following in the South Bay and I think there will a great crowd here tomorrow.”
“The field is in great condition right now. We’ll see in 24 hours if it continues to rain, it could be a little bit sloppy, but we will be ready to go.”
Dynamo forward Calen Carr: “This is a beautiful stadium and it is nice personally to be home in the Bay Area and see some family and friends, but we are staying focused on the game. “
“It is really cool to come in here and see a whole different side to the stadium. I grew up an A’s fan, but I came to game two of the World Series here against the Texas Rangers (in 2010). It is a different view and is really cool to be able to play in this beautiful stadium. “
“The field plays great. Obviously the rain is going to be an issue tomorrow, but that is a part of the game and we will be prepared for that and will be ready to go.”