Houston, TX – I wanted to do things a little different this week. Instead of just writing the facts of what happened during the game, I wanted to share a bit about myself and where I’m coming from as well as describing the experience of going to a Houston Dynamo game overall.
I fell in love with soccer when I was a small child, my father coached my brothers and then me when I came of age, I always had a ball at my feet. My sisters were big supporters of my footballing as I played for various leagues. I grew up watching soccer all around the world, from the Barclays Premier League in England, to La Liga in Spain, to the Bundasliga in Germany, but my favorite team growing up happened to be Ajax in the Netherlands. I waited 26 years for a Houston professional team and when the Dynamo came, I finally had a local professional team to support and be a part of in my city. To say I’m passionate about this team would be an understatement.
A Dynamo home game is an experience. The Orange clad fans gathering in the parking lot tailgating, kids and adults playing soccer passing games, some setting up little goals imitating their heroes with their goal-scoring celebrations, friendly people, and food abound it’s a welcoming community. My best friend, photographer, and I made our way around joining in on the festivities, talking to all the awesome fans, joining in on some of the games being played, and having a lovely time. We came up on the Orange Fanaticos Party Bus and it was awesome! Two best friends went in on the bus together and with a modest donation they fed us some excellent chicken, beans, rice, and amazing sausages and they welcomed us with open arms. We watched a Liga MX game on the television they had outside of the bus as latin music blared from the speakers. We talked about different soccer games that had happened earlier in the day from leagues around the world and about our mutual love for the Dynamo. I recommend stopping by and supporting the Orange Fanaticos and partaking in their food offer, it was delicious and they were the most gracious of hosts.
We then made our way to Orange Avenue where we were greeted by a sea of Dynamo fans. On Orange Avenue there were the Dynamo girls and the kick-off to Hispanic Heritage Month with live music from Karlos Rose, a dominican performer of bachata music, Fulanito, a Domincan group that performs merengue with the inclusion of various other styles like hip-hop, and Grupo Zenzio a tenjo/norteno band on the Bud Light Stage.
It was Bud Light Hispanic Heritage Night and the atmosphere was outstanding. There were fans enjoying themselves dancing to he music, drinking in the beer garden, eating food from the two food trucks that were set-up (Taconmadre and TacoKeto), and classic pub food from Lucky’s Pub, where you’ll always find a variety of Dynamo fans hanging out before and after games (that’s my usual hang-out so if you see me there feel free to say hello).
BBVA Compass Stadium is gorgeous. I’ve been to so many games there since it’s completion in May of 2012 and have sat in every section including the suites and was never disappointed with the view. When I picked out my season ticket seats, I chose the east side of the stadium cause you get an incredible view of the downtown skyline. There is nothing better than cheering and high-fiving everyone around you when the Dynamo find the back of the net, singing and clapping with the supporters section as they drum, play their horns, and chant throughout the entire match; booing the refs when they make bad calls or cheering them when they get it right and heckling the opposing teams.
The Dynamo, in their ten year existence, have won back-to-back MLS Cups, been to the MLS Cup Final four times, and have only missed out on the playoffs twice and never in consecutive seasons. The bar has been set high for this team and it is unacceptable to not at least make the playoffs. This team has made Houston proud and should be celebrated.
The Dynamo embody the city of Houston: a talented, culturally diverse, hard-working group, always considered underdogs by the national media. I listen to soccer podcasts all the time and rarely do they talk about the Dynamo other then that we exist. It’s what makes our success that much sweeter, they write us off all season preferring to discuss the big name teams like New York and LA until we are knocking out those teams in the playoffs and making a solid run for the MLS Cup. It’s also why we in the media and as fans need to hold the Dynamo accountable when they don’t live up to our expectations. And on Saturday night they didn’t.
In a must win game against Real Salt Lake, (a Western Conference rival) the Dynamo put on a dismal performance as they were thoroughly beaten 3-1 at home in front of a crowd of 22,909 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Dynamo lined up in a promising 4-4-2 formation with Cubo Torres and Will Bruin partnering up top at the start of the match.
The Real Salt Lake defense was too much however, limiting the Dynamo’s chances to one in the 22nd minute when Nathan Sturgis lobbed the Salt Lake defense finding Ricardo Clark who made a smart, well-timed run behind but was denied by the foot of Real salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando. We never really bothered Nick Rimando again for the rest of the half.
The first Salt Lake goal came in the 2nd minute of added time as a lose ball in the Dynamo box wasn’t cleared properly and was slotted home by Real’s Javier Morales.
The beginning of the second half the Dynamo came out on the front foot putting pressure on Salt Lake and carving out a chance in the 46th minute as Giles Barnes put in a cross that found the head of Brad Davis; but again Nick Rimando was up to the challenge and was able to get a hand on it to deny the Dynamo and keep their lead intact.
The Dynamo were caught again being unorganized in the back and were punished as Devon Sandoval was the first to a loose ball and made no mistake from three yards out putting it in the back out the net and extending their lead to 2-0.
In the 63rd minute, the Dynamo got a lucky break when Real’s John Stertzer was whistled for a hand-ball in the box leading to a penalty that Brad Davis blasted into the back of the net leaving Rimando with no chance, bringing the Dynamo back in it and cutting the deficit in half.
It didn’t take long for Real salt Lake to reclaim their 2 goal cushion as Juan Martinez took it upon himself to march right up the left flank practically unchallenged and blasting his shot past Dynamo keeper Tyler Deric and into the roof of the net making it 3-1 and effectively ending any hopes of a Dynamo comeback.
Soccer is brutal, when we win it’s the highest of highs, we lose and it’s just awful. This season has been inconsistent to say the least, and the fans deserve better.
I was able to ask my first question at the press conference after the game, which was very exciting for me. I was confused as to why AJ Cochran, who I think is a very good young player that normally plays center-back, was used at left-back when Real Salt Lake was going to utilize the wings to beat us for pace (which they did on the third goal specifically), so I asked. Coyle was very nice about it letting me know that I shouldn’t put all the blame on Cochran (I wasn’t) and reminding me of the fact that AJ had put in a good performance in our 3-0 victory against LA Galaxy earlier in the year. Although I was taken to school, I’m not swayed from asking questions at future press conferences.
My photographer and I tried to get locker room video interviews but it didn’t work out as planned and the mood in there wasn’t a very happy one after the loss. I may try to attempt it again in the future but I am still learning and need to figure out the proper etiquette.
I did meet Kyle Beckerman who plays for Real Salt Lake, and was able to get a photo. I let him know that, “I hate you for the 90 minutes you play against the Dynamo but love you for the 90 you play for the U.S. National Team,” he laughed and said, “I get it, I get it man,” it was a fun moment.
We finished the night at Lucky’s Pub having fun lamenting the loss in the company of all the other Dynamo fans.
I like Owen Coyle, it’s been difficult for every European coach who has come over and tried their hand in MLS to have success. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish and the Dynamo are in a position where if we are mathematically going to make the playoffs and not miss out for two consecutive seasons for the first time in our history, we’ll need to grab all 18 available points from the last six games of the season and when looking at our upcoming opponents that feat doesn’t look very possible. It’s either we win every game or pray that all the teams above us start losing. Things don’t look too good for us.
Whatever happens I highly recommend coming out to our last three home games, we rise and fall together and the experience is worth it. I’d like to start a viewing party in The Woodlands of away games, if anybody has suggestions or would like to join comment on this article.
Next Game: Sunday September 20th at 6pm against Philadelphia Union at PPL Park
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: 1560AM/ 850AM