In talking with Dynamo players and coaches after training on Monday, the word playoff was thrown around quite often. OK, maybe it was me asking them if Wednesday's match reminded them of a second leg of a playoff series, but since no one refuted the statement that counts, right?
Regardless, although the Dynamo are only one game into their MLS season, Wednesday's Champions League match against Santos Laguna is the type of situation the Dynamo have excelled in over the past seven years. Few coaches around Major League Soccer have been able to navigate a team through a home-and-away series better than Dominic Kinnear.
Since 2006, Kinnear and the Dynamo have participated in 12 home-and-away series. That stat includes the MLS Cup playoffs, CONCACAF Champions League and CONCACAF Champions' Cup. In those 12 series, the Dynamo have advanced eight times. Two of the four series losses came in the CONCACAF Champions Cup with a third coming in the Champions League and the fourth coming in the 2008 Western Conference semifinals.
In two of those eight wins, the Dynamo have closed out the series with a result on the road, something Houston will have to do on Wednesday if they want to remain alive in the 2012-13 Champions League.
|Dynamo in two-legged series (8-4 record all-time)|
|Year||Opponent||Leg 1||Leg 2||Competition|
|2006||vs. Chivas USA||L 2-1||W 2-0||Western Conference Semifinals|
|2007||vs. FC Dallas||L 1-0||W 4-1||Western Conference Semifinals|
|2007||vs. Puntarenas||L 1-0||W 2-0||CONCACAF Champions Cup Quarterfinals|
|2007||vs. Pachuca||W 2-0||L 5-2||CONCACAF Champions Cup Semifinals|
|2008||vs. Municipal||T 0-0||W 3-1||CONCACAF Champions Cup Quarterfinals|
|2008||vs. Saprissa||T 0-0||L 3-0||CONCACAF Champions Cup Semifinals|
|2008||vs. New York||T 1-1||L 3-0||Western Conference Semifinals|
|2008-09||vs. Atlante||T 1-1||L 3-0||CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals|
|2009||vs. Seattle||T 0-0||W 1-0||Western Conference Semifinals|
|2011||vs. Philadelphia||W 2-1||W 1-0||Eastern Conference Semifinals|
|2012||vs. Sporting KC||W 2-0||L 1-0||Eastern Conference Semifinals|
|2012||vs. D.C. United||W 3-1||T 1-1||Eastern Conference Finals|
|2012-13||vs. Santos Laguna||W 1-0||???||CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals|
For years, MLS commissioner Don Garber has talked about Major League Soccer being one of the best leagues in the world by 2022. And when he talks about that goal, he almost always prefaces the statement by saying MLS needs to be the best league in the region before it can be one of the best in the world.
The differences between MLS and Liga MX are well-documented. With no salary cap south of the border, teams are able to spend freely on top talent, both domestic and abroad. There are more than a handful of players playing in the Mexican first division whose salaries would dwarf most MLS teams outside of New York and LA.
But that competitive advantage has not stopped the Dynamo from being a strong opponenet for Mexican clubs over the past seven years. Since the Dynamo moved to Houston from San Jose in 2006, the team is 9-7-4 all-time against Mexican foes. That includes matches in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, SuperLiga, BBVA Compass Dynamo Charities Cup and international friendlies.
Along the way there have many memorable moments.
Who can forget the Dynamo's 4-4 tie at Pumas in the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League? With the draw, Houston became the first MLS team to earn a point on Mexican soil in any competition.
Or how about Houston's 2-0 win over Pachuca in the 2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup home match? The match was originally scheduled for Wednesday night, but a power outage forced the game to be pushed to Thursday afternoon. Houston took the first leg, but was unable to take the series, falling at Pachuca 5-2.
You could probably poll 5 people and they might each give you a different favorite memory against Mexican opposition, including last Tuesday's 1-0 win over Santos Laguna.
So what do you say Dynamo fans? What is your favorite memory / game / story against a team from Mexico? Let us know in the comments section below!
|Dynamo vs. Mexican opposition (9-7-4 all-time; 9-4-3 home; 0-3-1 road)|
|03/15/07||vs. Pachuca||W 2-0||Robertson Stadium||CONCACAF Champions Cup|
|04/05/07||at Pachuca||L 5-2||Estadio Hidalgo||CONCACAF Champions Cup|
|07/25/07||vs. Club America||W 1-0||Robertson Stadium||SuperLiga|
|07/29/07||vs. Morelia||T 1-1||Robertson Stadium||SuperLiga|
|08/14/07||vs. Pachuca||T 2-2 (Lost 4-3 on PKs)||Robertson Stadium||SuperLiga|
|07/12/08||vs. Atlante||W 4-0||Robertson Stadium||SuperLiga|
|07/15/08||vs. Chivas de Guadalajara||L 0-1||Robertson Stadium||SuperLiga|
|07/29/08||vs. Pachuca||W 2-0||Robertson Stadium||SuperLiga|
|09/30/08||at Pumas||T 4-4||Estadio Olimpico Universitario||CONCACAF Champions League|
|10/22/08||vs. Pumas||L 3-1||Robertson Stadium||CONCACAF Champions League|
|02/24/09||vs. Atlante||T 1-1||Robertson Stadium||CONCACAF Champions League|
|03/03/09||at Atlante||L 3-0||Estadio Quintana Roo Atlante||CONCACAF Champions League|
|09/16/09||at Pachuca||L 2-0||Estadio Hidalgo||CONCACAF Champions League|
|09/30/09||vs. Pachuca||L 1-0||Robertson Stadium||CONCACAF Champions League|
|10/11/09||vs. Monterrey||W 2-1||Robertson Stadium||BBVA Compass Dynamo Charities Cup|
|07/15/10||vs. Pachuca||W 2-1||Robertson Stadium||SuperLiga|
|07/21/10||vs. Puebla||W 1-0||Robertson Stadium||SuperLiga|
|08/05/10||vs. Morelia||L 1-0||Robertson Stadium||SuperLiga|
|09/04/11||vs. Monterrey||W 3-0||Robertson Stadium||Friendly|
|03/05/13||vs. Santos Laguna||W 1-0||BBVA Compass Stadium||CONCACAF Champions League|
Following Tuesday's 1-0 win over Santos Laguna, Dynamo goalkeepers coach Tim Hanley spoke with the media about the match.
When the Major League Soccer schedule was released in January, fans took to analyzing the Dynamo's matchups, both home and away. But it was the Dynamo's bye weekend that might prove to be the most valuable for the club.
Following Tuesday's 1-0 win over Santos Laguna in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series, the Dynamo will have the weekend off before traveling to Mexico for the second leg.
Houston is not the only team in MLS with such an advantage. Both the Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy, who are also competing in the CCL quartefinals, will have this coming weekend off from league play. It's another design by the executives at MLS to give their teams an advantage in the region's premier tournament.
On the flip side, schedule makers for LigaMX did not do Santos Laguna any favors. Santos played last Friday night against Jaguares de Chiapas before Tuesday's first leg at BBVA Compass Stadium. Los Guerreros will host Atlante on Friday, March 9 before hosting the Dynamo in the second leg on Wednesday, March 13.
Will the Dynamo's off weekend give them a leg up in game two? Is Santos a deep enough team to overcome four games in 13 days? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below.