"This doesn't look like a first place team." That was a quote from my parents about the Red Bulls during not only their first Dynamo game, but their first soccer game ever. Visiting from Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, I couldn't pass on the opportunity to take them to the hottest game of the season against New York.
The Houston Dynamo dominated the Red Bulls from the opening whistle and went on to a 2-0 win that catapulted them into first place in the Eastern Conference. With the win, the Dynamo have now won five consecutive games and are unbeaten in eight. During that run, they've outscored their opponents 15-2.
Apologies for my website being a bit quiet last week, but my parents visiting from 1500 miles away for the first time in 3 years took the majority of my time. The trip was an adventure for my parents; the drive alone is over 24 hours, and they drove straight through to get here. Their original plan was to leave Friday morning as work would be calling on Monday and they didn't want to be rushed. Naturally, I was ecstatic when they decided to extend their stay when I invited them to Friday's Downtown Showdown. Hopefully, none of their supervisors will read this because it's Monday and they're still on the road.
As I mentioned, this was their first soccer game ever, and they were anxious to see what all the fuss was about. My father constantly tells me Facebook should have more photos and posts about his grandchildren than "orange things" as he references my constant tweets and posts about the Dynamo. On Friday afternoon as we loaded into the car with my mother, father, and brother, I told him pretty soon he'll see why my life is consumed with orange.
Throughout the week, I stuck in any Dynamo reference I could, but the car ride was all about the hottest soccer team in the nation. It's only a 20 minute ride to BBVA Compass Stadium, so I had to give the cliff notes version of Dynamo history. I talked about the excitement of our prized trophy "El Capitan" being fired for the first time, the battle for first place, the recent streak of success, and the differences in payroll between New York and Houston.
As we approached the new Dynamo stadium, my father mentioned they had passed it the other day driving on Highway 59 and didn't know what it was. My mother told him, "Whatever it is, it looks cool." When we pulled up to the stadium, they all were amazed by the architecture and the overall design of the stadium. The only thing that worried them was the only air-conditioned part of the stadium would be the rest rooms. They have been out of Houston for 6 years now, so they are not used to the August heat anymore.
Upon arrival, I gave them a 360 degree tour of the stadium, going over all the information I learned when getting the privilege to tour the stadium twice before the grand opening. They loved the atmosphere inside and couldn't wait until the game started.
organized Walker End chants. As soon as the game kicked off, they jumped out of their seats with every other orange fan when Jermaine Taylor knocked in the game's first goal 73 seconds after the first whistle.
Brad Davis served up another great free kick into the box, and Houston was relentless, with Mac Kanji and Andre Hainault getting touches before Taylor tapped the ball in for the 1-0 lead.
Going into the game, both Houston and New York had remarkable success after getting the first goal, so it was important to strike first.
The Dynamo continued to pressure the entire first half, with several opportunities to build on their lead. In the 28', they did just that. Corey Ashe, who had a remarkable game, kicked it out wide to Mac Kanji who was all alone. He sent a long cross into the box which seemed destined for a streaking Calen Carr, who headed it near the far post to put the Dynamo up 2-0.
It was Carr's fourth goal of the year, which set a career high. Carr has flourished in Houston's new 4-3-3 formation, with all four goals coming in the last four games.
Houston nearly scored another goal shortly before the halftime whistle and it was evident New York was tired and Houston was the better team. The second half was no different, with Houston controlling possession and continuing the pressure on the New York defense.
During the game, I was providing my parents with statistics, player insight, and history the entire time. When I saw Brian Ching on the sideline ready to be subbed in, I simply told them to listen to the stadium. They were amazed by the ovation Ching received and understood after I gave them a bit of background on our captain.
As the game wound down, it was clear the Dynamo were the better team and were taking over first place in the Eastern Conference. It's been a few years since we have seen a Dynamo team so complete and dominate. The defense is in sync, the offense is deadly, and the depth is solid. The return leg in New York on Friday will provide another great challenge given the Red Bulls are the only other MLS team that is undefeated at home.
After a full 90 minutes of constant pressure, two goals, a slue of Dynamo history, this Ordinary Orange Fan was able to turn family members into an Ordinary Orange Family. My parents didn't leave BBVA Compass Stadium without a shirt, scarf, and a window decal for my father's truck. My father, who wore one of my jersey's to the game, asked me if he could keep it. When asked by my wife when they got home if he enjoyed the game, my father said, "I'm officially a Dynamo fan."
My parents want to know how
@chriscanetti manages to make the #19 payroll a winner over a team like #1 payroll #NYRB. I said magic.
— Ordinary Orange Fan (@OrangeFanBlog) August 4, 2012
On July 17th, 2012, the MLS Power Rankings read "Few teams in the league are less inspiring than the Dynamo." When I told my family that on the drive home, my brother said, "who writes that stuff, idiots?"
Less than a month later, Houston is first in the Eastern Conference, and sit only four points behind San Jose for the Supporter's Shield. In the last month, the Dynamo have signed an extremely productive designated player, changed formation, lost a star, brought back a hero, and haven't lost in nearly 14 months at home.
"Inspiring" is exactly what I'd call the Dynamo.
Follow me on Twitter @OrangeFanBlog