Chabala's first pro goal amuses his Dynamo teammates

Left back takes grief for scoring with his right foot

Mike Chabala, Houston Dynamo

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On Saturday against FC Dallas, the Houston Dynamo got a goal
from an unlikely source: Mike Chabala.
It was the defender’s first career goal, and it wound up being vital as
the match finished 1-1.

“I am just really excited to contribute,” Chabala told
MLSsoccer.com this week. “I have a big responsibility this year
and I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity that I get.”

The fact that he scored his first professional goal is
significant, but it’s not the most notable aspect of this story. The fact that he
scored it with his right foot is much more important—and amusing—to his
teammates.

“That’s what everyone was joking about, scoring with my
right,” Chabala said. “I have worked with both my feet since I was a kid. If I get an opportunity to strike with
my right, I’ll take it. But obviously I am more comfortable with left.”

Coach Dominic Kinnear though quickly disavowed the notion that
the young defender is not ambidextrous.

“Everyone wants to give him grief on the finish, but he’s good
with both feet,” Kinnear noted. “He can probably play left or right back, but ultimately a great goal.”

For Kinnear, the quickness of the counterattack that led to
the goal, and specifically the run Chabala—nicknamed Chewie—made from a deep
defensive position, impressed him as much as the finish.

“I think the overall buildup play for us from a giveaway and
taking advantage of it deep in our own half was a great goal,” Kinnear said. “The
pace that we had behind us when the ball turned over, [Dominic Oduro’s] layoff
was good, but Chewie’s run off the ball was fantastic.”

Last year, Chabala wrestled the starting left back position
away from longtime regular Wade Barrett, who retired and took a position on the
coaching staff prior to the start of this season.

“Wade’s had an incredible career and he’s been my mentor,” Chabala said. “I’ve been
watching him the past four years since I have been here. I’ve been learning from
him and the coaches and I have been trying to follow in his footsteps.”

Chabala’s teammates already see he is moving in the right
direction.

“I think he’s done well,” forward Brian Ching said. “With Wade
retiring, it’s a big opportunity to solidify that spot and I think he did that
last year. He played well. It’s a good start to the season for him.”