FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Revolution’s 2010 season opener against the LA Galaxy on Saturday night will be a homecoming of sorts for goalkeeper Preston Burpo.
Expected to start between the pipes in place of the injured Matt Reis, Burpo should be very comfortable roaming around the box at The Home Depot Center. After all, he’ll be standing on familiar ground.
No, Burpo is not from California. And no, he never played for the Galaxy. But he did call The HDC “home” from 2006-07 during a two-year stint with Chivas USA, which shares its home ground with LA.
Burpo appeared in 22 games in two years with the Goats – including a career-high 19 in 2006 – and maintained a very respectable 8-4-10 record. He’ll be hoping to continue his previous success at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night in his first appearance with the Revolution, the club he joined this past offseason via trade with the Colorado Rapids.
The veteran shot-stopper is looking forward to his return to California, and will feel right at home not only on the field, but off it as well. Having moved away from the area just three years ago, Burpo still has many acquaintances around Carson.
“Getting back there and seeing some people before the game will be nice,” he said.
Perhaps seeing some familiar faces will add to Burpo’s comfort level on Saturday night, but undoubtedly it’s his previous experience on the field at The Home Depot Center which will aid him as the noise from the home fans grows increasingly louder throughout the match.
Just the second soccer-specific venue designed for an MLS team when it was opened in 2003 – following only Columbus Crew Stadium – The Home Depot Center provides a distinct home-field advantage for both the Galaxy and Chivas USA. Seating 27,000 fans in close proximity to the field, it can be an intimidating environment for visiting players.
Fortunately for Burpo, he’ll have an advantage in that regard.
“The noise sits in that stadium and it’s a great place to play,” he said of his prior experience at The Home Depot Center. “The Galaxy always has some loud and hostile fans, and it makes it a fun environment, for sure.”
Burpo might actually know more about the Galaxy’s “loud and hostile” fans than any of his Revolution teammates. While every visiting club surely hears from the Galaxy’s supporters when visiting The Home Depot Center, it’s likely that none hear it more than Chivas USA.
Billed as the “SuperClasico” because the clubs not only play in the same city, but share the same stadium, the rivalry between the Galaxy and Chivas USA has been building since Chivas USA joined the league as an expansion team in 2005.
As part of that rivalry, Burpo knows what it’s like not only to play as a member of the home team at The Home Depot Center, but also as a visiting member of the Galaxy’s most spirited rival.
With a 2-2-2 career record against LA – including his time with Chivas USA and the Rapids – Burpo is just hoping for a successful season opener on Saturday night.
“When the whistle blows, hopefully it’ll be a good time for us,” he said.