All hands on deck as Houston races the clock

By Ridge Mahoney

As the final whistle blew on Houston's 2-1 defeat of Chicago Wednesday night in the MLS Eastern Conference wild-card game, another Dynamo team sprang into action.

President Chris Canetti and the sales staff hit the phones and social media networks to spread the word: Houston hosts Sporting Kansas City Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Central time in the first leg of the conference semifinals. The first playoff game at BBVA Compass Stadium is an historic occasion, yet a partially filled stadium wouldn’t cast the facility and organization in a favorable light despite the tight turnaround.

The game is to be televised nationally on NBC, the first league playoff game to air on the main network. Time is of the essence for the Dynamo, which averaged 21,015 fans per game but is working on a very short time-frame and must also contend with the NFL Texans playing a home game at Reliant Stadium the same day. "It's basically all hands on deck," Canetti said to the Houston Chronicle. "Whatever it takes in terms of manpower and hours. If there's 72 hours until kickoff, many of those hours will be used working.

"Good news is, we've been through this before several times. We pre-sold around 10,000 tickets over the last month or so because we've had a campaign going for people. It's pretty amazing."

Houston, which captured back-to-back MLS titles in 2006 and 2007 following a move from San Jose, sold out playoff games in its previous home, Robertson Stadium, which has a capacity of about 31,000 for soccer. BBVA seats 22,039 and since opening in May has hosted rugby, American football and exhibition soccer matches as well as the Guyana-Mexico World Cup qualifier last month. Houston hasn't lost any home games to MLS opposition since June of last year.

“No question about it, I think it's really important that we got a home playoff game at the new stadium in the first year,” Canetti said. “Some of the best moments in our history have been over there at Robertson in playoff games. We want to create a history at BBVA Compass Stadium.

"If we can put together a great crowd and the team wins, it will be another awesome moment. These playoff games are what people remember."
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