Archive for November 2011

Why I Am a Houston Dynamo Fan - and Why You Should Be One

The key to attracting a fan is the connection to the team.

I didn't grow up a soccer player or fan.  In fact, I do not even recall kicking a soccer ball until I was in my mid twenties.  I played baseball and basketball - two of the more common so called "American" sports.  But I can tell you know, my life is consumed with soccer.  I follow a couple of other teams - both south of the border; but nothing compares for my love for our team, the Houston Dynamo.

I can tell you exactly where it started.  Well, sort of...  I cannot recall the game or opponent, but I can certainly tell you when the "connection" was made.  In the first ever Dynamo season, I went to a couple games with a friend with some free tickets he received at work.  I enjoyed the games and loved the fact we had a new team in Houston I could follow closer than my then favorite teams.  But there is one game where I tell people my obsession with the Orange Crush began.  And it began with a player I still hold in the highest regard - even if he has barely taken the field this year.  After we lost that game, my wife and I noticed a crowd building near the locker room so we decided to hang out for a bit to cheer on the team after a hard fought game.  Shortly after the final whistle, I can remember players coming around the corner and waiving to the cheering crowd as they entered the locker room.  Then came Eddie Robinson.  The same Eddie Robinson that instilled fear in most of the league for his intimidating defense and attitude on the field.  I can remember him walking right around the corner and making eye contact with him.  It's strange because at one point I thought, "is this guy staring at me?" He kept eye contact and walked right up to me and said, "Thank you for coming to the game and supporting us." Then he proceeded to thank several fans next to me and was given a huge ovation as he turned and went into the locker room.  That simple gesture was it.  At that moment, I was shocked - not starstruck by any means - just shocked.  Is that something you can expect from professional athletes?  I didn't think so.  And I still don't think so.

A couple days later, we decided to buy a 10-game package and we wound up attending nearly all the games in the inaugural season.  We have renewed our tickets ever since and are now awaiting the first ever game in BBVA Compass Stadium on May 12, 2012.  That was the connection.

If you are reading this and are not a Houston Dynamo Season Ticket Holder - I hope you become one.  The connection with this team and these players can happen at any time.  I have also had the pleasure of running into coaching staff and players outside of their soccer environment and they are just as approachable, humble, and willing to talk to any fans.  The same stands for the front office associates - always willing to listen to what the fans have to say.  Club President Chris Canetti can be seen walking around the Stadium at nearly every game.  He'll stop and talk soccer with any fan around.  This type of interaction and connection to a fan base is unmatched by our baseball and football teams.  This team and players are involved in the Houston community and invest their time into several player initiatives to help others.  Most, if not all players, can be considered role models for actions on the field and off the field.

Over the next few months, I can imagine the Houston Dynamo will be all over Houston promoting the new stadium and the upcoming season.  As the build up continues for opening day in 2012, take advantage of any opportunity to be involved with the Dynamo.  Next year is a year of historical proportions - you don't want to miss it.  So I even call "bandwagon" fans - get into a ticket package this year.  I'm confident this team will make a connection with you and I'll be welcoming you into the Season Ticket Holder family.  Fans of the Mexican league that isn't sold on MLS - come out and watch the passion for this team and you'll become a fan too.  Fans of the EPL and La Liga - there is great futbol being player right here in Houston.

You never know what the connection will be.  There are many story lines for 2012.  New stadium, Brian Ching, possible designated player, defending our Eastern Conference Championship, going for the MLS Cup, the revised playoff format, and more developing as we move towards our March opener.

Once you feel that connection, maybe you too will show up at work wearing an orange shirt and space city blue tie on game days.  Maybe you will have Houston Dynamo license plates.  Maybe you will have a room in your house dedicated to your team.  Maybe you will start writing a blog covering the team you love.  And maybe you will always have a story to explain to others of "how you became a Dynamo fan."

A special thank you goes out to Eddie Robinson for giving me one.

I hope to see each and every one of you at the new BBVA Compass Stadium next year.  I'll be watching from my seats in Section 139.

Section 139 in BBVA Compass Stadium via Houston Dynamo Virtual Venue


















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Stadium gets a name / Dynamo news

A few big notes on the Houston Dynamo this week...

Houston Dynamo Stadium takes big step - naming rights!
As you now know, the Houston Dynamo Stadium has been named "BBVA Compass Stadium."  BBVA Compass, the bank with Spanish roots purchased the naming rights for a mere $20 million dollars for the next 10 years.  Twitter erupted with discussion yesterday evening about the name.  Safe to say, it's getting mixed results from Dynamo fans.  Most can agree, it will probably be referred to "The Compass" or "Compass Stadium."  I don't think many will include the BBVA when speaking about the stadium.  Stay tuned for a press conference TODAY at 3PM CST.
Take a look at the full story here.

In addition, if you haven't driven by the stadium lately, it's really taking shape.  Some orange has been added to parts of the exterior, and the video board is in the installation process.

More roster moves!
Defender Hunter Freeman was picked up by the Colorado Rapids in the 2nd Stage MLS Re-Entry draft, while veterans Eddie Robinson and Jason Garey were not selected.  Sources are saying Garey will not return and Robinson is mulling his options.
Take a look at the full Re-Entry Draft results here.
Click here for more information on Robinson.

The Dynamo have the 18th pick in the MLS Superdraft which is scheduled to be held in Kansas City on January 12th.

Finally, while all of this is happening stateside, some of our young talent is actually playing some futbol overseas.  You can follow Will Bruin and Kofe Sarkodie as they play with the Generation Adidas team.

More updates as they come... 
For now, follow the live feed on mlssoccer.com for the Stadium ceremony at 3PM CST. 

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All Time Houston Dynamo Team

The Houston Dynamo are a relatively young franchise.  But regardless of how long the team has been in existence, there is always debate about who the best player is, was, and opinions of the best players to ever don the orange.  This is my take on the All Time Houston Dynamo Team, an entire game day roster.  The Starting XI is my pick for the best all time in defense, midfield, and forward.  Naturally, I'm listing a 4-4-2 formation - even though it was tough finding anyone worthy to stand next to our Captain up front.

To qualify, I tried to look for players that played at least 30 games or more in a Dynamo jersey.  Some of these players skills may have faded by now... but at the peak of their career, I'd want them wearing that orange jersey more than anyone else in their position.  There are also some players listed on the bench that are one or two seasons away from breaking the starting lineup. 

On to the picks...

Goalkeeper: Pat Onstad
Let's face it, the man was a legend in between the sticks.  He was a monster when it came to keeping his defenders heads in the game, and is among the best of all time in MLS.

Defenders: Craig Waibel, Geoff Cameron, Bobby Boswell, Eddie Robinson
Can you imagine these four in front of Onstad?  Insane.  The intensity in these four players would be incredible.  Cameron has cemented his places as a top defender in the league with a best XI selection in 2009 and was a big part of the Dynamo's successful run in the latter part of this year.  Boswell is his perfect sidekick.  Throw in the raw, intimidating power of Waibel and Robinson in their prime, this makes for a scary good defensive line.

Midfielders: Brian Mullan, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis, Dwayne De Rosario
The midfield selection was the easiest to pick.  It's hard to argue the success of these four players in orange.  Clark's performance was enough to have him as USMNT starter and eventually led him to Germany.  De Rosario was last years MVP and is still a topic of Dynamo fan's conversations when he has come up in transfer talks.  Seems most Dynamo fans would have welcomed him back earlier this year when their were rumors we were trying to acquire him.  Things have never really seemed the same in midfield since he left the Dynamo.  Mullan was a solid day in, day out workhorse on the right side of the field.  He played with that classic Dynamo grit for every second he was on the field.  And Davis has always had a solid left foot, but it wasn't until the last couple years we have really noticed what he is capable of.  Most still believe Davis should have won the MVP this year.  Either way, without a doubt he's one of the best midfielders that will ever wear the orange jersey.

Forwards: Brian Ching, Joseph Ngwenya
Ching is obviously an easy choice.  He has been the face of the franchise since the moment the club arrived in Houston.  He welcomed all of the team's new fans with a four goal performance the first time he ever took the field in orange.  Through it all - great performances, injuries, the painful USMNT snub, and the 2011 Expansion draft - Dynamo fans have supported our Captain and still do.  The other forward spot could easily be filled by a couple of people - none of which really stand out.  I selected Ngwenga simply because of some clutch performances during his time with the Dynamo.  Keep in mind, the list is about the players in their prime (I certainly wouldn't take the 2011 version of Ngwenya, 2007 only please).

Bench: Stuart Holden, Richard Mulrooney, Wade Barrett, Corey Ashe, Andre Hainault, Tally Hall, Cam Weaver
Holden is great for Houston and a great person.  I don't see his accomplishments with the Dynamo enough to knock any of the starting midfielders out of their position, so he winds up here on the bench.  Mulrooney was a solid player with the Dynamo, almost boringly good.  His name didn't make too many headlines good or bad.  Barrett's stock took a big hit with me after his performance against the Red Bulls in the 2008 season.  He was a good player for the Dynamo the first couple of years, but his performance started to decline quickly and that keeps him out of the starting XI for me.  Ashe has had an incredible run this year, transitioning from midfielder to defense. He finished the season back in midfield and who knows where he will wind up next year.  His versatility is what gets him here on the best of all time.  He was been a solid player wherever Kinnear has needed him.  Hainault will crack the starting lineup if he remains with the Dynamo for a couple more seasons.  He is slowly becoming one of the leagues top talents.  Let's hope he is not traded to Montreal in this whole Ching situation.  Hall has already filled in nicely from where Onstad left off.  Even though he has only been our starter for one full season, he showed signs of greatness last year when needed and quickly made Dynamo fans feel comfortable after Onstad's retirement.  Lastly, Weaver is one of my least favorite players (and I hope he is not in a Dynamo jersey going forward), but he has scored some goals for us in times of need (and I needed another forward).  He beats out the likes of Kamara and Oduro (yeah right).

So what do you think fellow Dynamo fans?  Have some different opinions?  Let me know your picks!
In a couple more days, I'll post the worst five players to ever wear Dynamo orange.  Stay tuned.

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Dynamo News/Notes

It's hard to believe the MLS preseason is only 7 weeks away!  Exciting times for an exciting team.  The Houston Dynamo and it's fans have a lot to look forward to.  From an up and down season, to climbing the top of the Eastern Conference all the way to the MLS Cup, things are definitely looking for the Dynamo.  The goal next year... to win that final game of the year, the MLS Cup.

Dynamo Stadium
The new Dynamo Stadium is coming along nicely.  For those of you that have not driven by, you have to!  As soon as you get near the area, you'll see it.  "It" actually looks like a stadium now, not just some construction site.  If you are missing the Dynamo right now and need some excitement, drive by!  Chris Canetti recently stated the naming rights for the stadium could be announced soon.

Roster Moves
The Dynamo are actively looking for players to fill some gaps in performance this year.  Obviously the Brian Ching dilemma is one item of concern.  Whether or not our Captain will open up the season with a Dynamo jersey, Montreal jersey, or suit on the sideline has yet to be seen.  My guess is we are a long way off from anything changing here.  The Dynamo Front Office have had no contact with the Impact front office. 
We made other news when Bobby Boswell protected in the expansion draft, only to be made available in the MLS Re-Entry draft.  But after a couple short days, Boswell signed a new deal and will be a big part of the Dynamo this year.
Speaking of a big part, newcomer Luiz Camargo is expected to be a huge part of our midfield.  The Dynamo made it official today by locking him into our team for 2012.  It will be interesting to see how well he will gel with teammates after having a full preseason.  Camargo is another great find by Dominic Kinnear and staff.
For those wondering, Carlo Costly will not be back.  Too much money and not enough production.  The Dynamo will likely be looking for another top striker with the Costly out and Ching likely to not return.

New Gear
Chris Canetti recently tweeted their will be a 3rd kit for the Dynamo in 2012.  I asked for some clarification and Canetti said this.  "It's not going to be blue or black." When asked when we will see the debut of the jersey, he said "at an early home game." 
Even though fans have been screaming for a "Space City Blue" jersey for several seasons, it won't come next year.  I've heard Canetti fears the blue could impact the orange branding of the team.  My guess is for a Greenstar purple jersey.  After posting my thoughts on twitter, it seems it could be a welcomed color for our team based on fan's opinions.  We'll see soon as I'm sure rumors will continue to circulate.

More to come on future postings...


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Why We Want Our Captain

Earlier tonight, I read a story about how the Houston Dynamo were trying to "have their cake and eat it too" in regards to the MLS Expansion Draft.  Of course, that reference was to how the Dynamo handled the Brian Ching situation.  The story talked about how the Dynamo wanted "their cake" (the 11 protected players) and "eat it too" (protecting Ching, the 12th player).  I'm tired of all the back and forth regarding the blame game - is it Kinnear or Marsch?  Obviously the facts are the facts.  Kinnear gambled, and lost.  Marsch knew what he was doing and showed bad character in a gentleman's game.  Yes it's a business, but with his history with Ching (previous blog accusing Ching of being a diver, and USMNT snub), and knowing Ching was only playing one more season to open the Dynamo Stadium, it was just a poor judgement call.

But the question is - why do the Houston Dynamo fans care so much?  Where has all this hatred for Marsch and the Montreal Impact come from?  Well, that is an easy question to answer.  In sports, there are times where a player defines a team.  In fact, usually several players define a team.  The Houston Dynamo are no different.  For the last six years, through numerous regular season games, international games, playoff games, and championship games, we the fans have grown to love our team.  The team had no standout stars as big as some other teams.  But they had heart.  And heart is what wins championships, respect, and fans.  That heart was evident each and every day the Dynamo took the field.  Over the last six years, we have seen beloved players leave for every reason you can name.  This year was tough; up and down from the start of the season to the high finish at the end.  Through it all, Brian Ching is one of the few we have left from the start of this dynasty in Houston.  He embodies what the Houston Dynamo stand for.  He has been the face of this franchise since moving to Houston and remains so to this day - even though technically he is listed as at Montreal Impact player today.  Ching is a leader on the field, a leader in practice, a leader off the field in the streets of Houston, and a person anyone can look up to.  A true definition of a captain.  The face of a franchise.  The face of a city.

I know that Brian Ching will be in Houston in 2012.  What I don't know is in what capacity.  As I read multiple stories and comments regarding taking Montreal's money and either having season ending surgery or sitting on the bench, I know Ching is not this kind of person.  As I mentioned, Ching is a leader, someone who commands respect - because he always does the right thing.  Even though anger can make us feel that is justified, it's not.  The second option is a trade for our captain being held captive.  Based on the boldness of Marsch to take Ching in the first place, he may demand players we cannot part with.  After all, this is a business and we may not be able to trade back for him.  The last option is Ching walks away from the game and is watching us open the 2012 season in the "House that Ching Built" from a suite with other front office employees.  This last option is not how the story was supposed to end.  But as we know, the gamble did not pay off.  We are not in control of the story right now.

For Ching's sake (and Dynamo fans) I hope we can make a reasonable trade for him so he will rightfully open the Houston Dynamo stadium wearing the number 25 Dynamo jersey with the captain's armband.  That is the way it is supposed to be.  That's the story book ending.  Let us have our captain back - so we can show him how much he means to us for one final year.  He is and always has been a player that deserves that.

Salud!  Here's to Brian coming home.

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