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Is Houston’s ‘advantage’ a disadvantage?

Post by Don Ruiz / The News Tribune on Oct. 25, 2009 at 7:29 pm with 16 Comments »
October 25, 2009 9:11 pm

mlshoumlsseaThe Sounders’ first-round MLS playoff series will start in Seattle and conclude in Houston, and normally that’s an advantage for the Dynamo.

It’s a two-game aggregate score series, so after playing on the road, Houston will go into the second game knowing exactly what it needs to do goal-wise to advance. And it will have the advantage of getting to do it on its home pitch.

That’s the general rule.

However, in this specific case, it seems to me that Houston is paying quite a price for that advantage. Remember, the Dynamo played this afternoon in Los Angeles. Now rather than fly two time zones east to Houston, fit in a couple of days of practice, and then fly two time zones west — and up — to Seattle for the opener on Thursday, the team has decided to stay extend its West Coast trip, and train in LA for a couple of days before heading up. (Here’s a look at Houston’s schedule challenges from MLSnet. And there are a couple of more links in the Comments section below.)

The Sounders, meanwhile, played Saturday, had today off, return to practice Monday, and don’t really have much else on their agenda but to sleep in their own beds and await for the Dynamo to show up at Qwest on Thursday.

So who got the advantage with that?

“It’s definitely not disadvantageous for us because they have to travel back and then travel out here, so that messes with their time a little bit,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s that time of the year when it’s the playoffs and it’s sort of like players suck it up and move on. If you have to fly back and train on the same day, then it’s like ‘Let’s get this done because we are in the playoffs.’ ‘If we have to get up early to fly then just take care of it because it’s the playoffs.’ So I think players sort of have that attitude this time of year.”

The situation doesn’t really reverse for the second game, because the MLS schedules its first round games in increments of light years, and the Sounders shouldn’t have to rush much to get to Houston in time for the Nov. 8 deciding game.

Schmid, by the way, said he likes the aggregate-score format.

“I’m a guy who would probably like home and home all the way through the MLS Championship, including the championship game,” he said. “We have a one-off championship; which I know they do in the Champions League as well, and of course they do it in American football. But the other sports — basketball, baseball, hockey — they all basically play a home-and-home. I think our sport is still young enough in this country where maybe a home-and-home in the finals makes sense and do it that way. I’m definitely not an opponent of the home-and-home.”

Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. chamberi says:

    “Now they have to fly two time zones east to Houston, fit in a couple of days of practice, and then fly two time zones west — and up — to Seattle for the opener on Thursday.”

    This is incorrect. They’re staying in LA and flying up to Seattle in a few days.

  2. Don Ruiz says:

    That’s interesting C. And it makes logistical sense. Where’d you hear/read/learn that? Meanwhile, I’ve asked the Dynamo for a clarification of their plans.

  3. chamberi says:

    From Stu Holden: “Training in LA until Tuesday before we head to Seattle!”

    He also says “The return match will be in Houston on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 2 p.m.”, meaning CT. Though, I’ve not seen any confirmation of that time and not sure if he’s just speculating on that.

  4. derekyoung says:

    Thought I had already posted this. It’s on MLSnet. And apparently Kinnear is none to happy about playing this coming Thursday. I had forgotten they also played on Wednesday in El Salvador.

    http://web.mlsnet.com/news/mls_news.jsp?ymd=20091025&content_id=7545196&vkey=news_mls&fext=.jsp

  5. Don Ruiz says:

    Very nice information, yall. I’ve tweaked the post above to reflect this.

  6. jimkingjr says:

    If Houston hadn’t wanted to play Thursday, they should have lost…

  7. ciscokid says:

    I’m reading the comments and thinking the same thing Jim. A draw and you’d be playing at home. Quit yer whining.

    Well, since the return game is on Sunday, I’m considering heading down to Oly get my son and joining the Black Hills Militia for the game. Do we get to take over the whole restaurant?

  8. jimkingjr says:

    Cisco- come on down. Game is at noon Sunday November 8.

    Game two of Los Angeles-Chivas is at 5:30pm that day, on ESPN2.

    The entire schedule is now on MLSnet.com
    http://web.mlsnet.com/news/mls_news.jsp?ymd=20091026&content_id=7553584&vkey=news_mls&fext=.jsp

  9. Don Ruiz says:

    I asked Sigi Schmid today (Monday) about Houston’s decision to train in LA:

    “They are doing what they think is appropriate for their team,” he said. “It probably makes sense not to fly back to Houston on Monday and turn around and fly back here [Seattle] on Wednesday. Those are judgments you sort of have to make on the fly as a coach.”

  10. jimkingjr says:

    Don- do they have a travel budget for you to go to Houston?

    Can you get them to at least cover mileage to Lacey- you could come hang with us at O’Blarney’s for the away game!

  11. Don Ruiz says:

    Thanks for the invitation, JK. But throughout the playoffs, wherever the Sounders go, I go.

  12. ciscokid says:

    Don Ruiz says:
    October 26, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks for the invitation, JK. But throughout the playoffs, wherever the Sounders go, I go.

    That’s awesome! And well deserved. Hope it includes a trip to LA.

  13. jimkingjr says:

    Naw, no trip to L.A.- we want Chivas here! Give Beckham an early exit back to Europe!

    But Don- glad they are sending you to the games. And let your folks know that they are doing the best job of placement and coverage of any Puget Sound area newspaper. I hope the Sounders appreciate the support- news and fans- they are getting in the South Sound.

    Maybe cub reporter Cisco can do a piece on the Black Hills Militia for you, while you are in Houston.

  14. EverydayFan says:

    DR – very cool … You’ve earned it

  15. ciscokid says:

    Well, I was Senior Editor of my college paper…

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