Proof that I’m an official, 100-percent, card-carrying, through-and-through soccer nerd is coming in 3, 2, 1 …
First thing I do when entering any stadium is examine the width. It’s a condition of the American soccer fan; most stadiums (until now!) were designed for American football and generally aren’t quite wide enough for a proper soccer field.
So, like Jason Bourne dutifully checking sight lines, I reflexively check the width straight away. Always have, even when I covered American football in a previous journalistic life. “Could they play soccer here?”
So what happened yesterday (barely conscious I was doing so) when I first walked into BBVA Compass Stadium for my first personnel look-see? Yep.
And I was surprised! Here’s what I said to myself: “Why, that wily old Dominic Kinnear … that son of gun kept his field narrow!”
The field is set at 70 yards today. That roughly the size of Robertson’s Stadium’s claustrophobic confines. (Robertson was listed as such, but always looked a little tighter to me.)
There’s plenty of room for more green at BBVA, mind you. A 75-yard wide field would fit easily. But Kinnear, the longtime Dynamo coach, asked that the field mimic Robertson Stadium’s dimensions. Dynamo preside Chris Canetti confirmed to me it was Kinnear’s request.
It makes sense from a competitive standpoint. After all, Kinnear’s side is built for close-quarter contact, for lots of balls into the box and action in and around the 18. The Dynamo coach has long tried to corner the market on tall center backs and strikers, after all.
Let’s hope it’s just a slow transition into something a little larger, into something that can yield soccer that’s a little easier on the eyes. But for today’s match, at least, the Orange’s match against D.C. United will look quite familiar to the home side.
You don’t win two championships in MLS and get to 100 wins at a younger age than any other manager – talking about Kinnear, of course – without learning a few tricks.