Looking back at 200 Dynamo games

A look at my journey through the first 200 games in club history

The Dynamo have played 200 competitive games in their
history. As part of our ‘bicentennial’ celebrations, I thought I’d look back at
some of my favorites from the first 200 games in club history.

Then in this weekend’s edition of the Dynamo Gameday
Magazine, I’ll present a look at what we can expect in the next 200 games. I
hope you’ll check it out and share your thoughts in the comments section of
HoustonDynamo.com articles, on Twitter, on MyDynamo.net, on message boards, or
anywhere else the Dynamo are discussed.

But for now, here are just a few of my most memorable Dynamo
games, one for each season in club history:

2006
Game 37 – October 29, 2006
Western Conference Semifinals, Leg 2
Dynamo 2, Chivas USA 0 (3-2 aggregate)

There were a lot of options from the inaugural season, of
course, from the opening game (#1) to Brian Ching’s bicycle kick (#33) to the
championship shootout (#39), but this one stands out in my mind. The Dynamo were
trailing by a goal from the first leg against a team I honestly grew to hate
over the course of 90 minutes that night, and nothing seemed more poetic than
to see Paco Palencia sent off, Houston tie the game on a penalty kick (remember
Brad Guzan had saved one in the first leg), and Brian Ching be the guy to get
the game-winner.

We all felt like we knew the Dynamo would win the series,
but Ching spared us the extra 30 minutes of tension and nerves, and we’ll
always be indebted to him and the whole team for that night. Tickets for the Western Conference
final went on sale immediately after the game, and I got in line right away to
get mine. No way was I missing another minute of the excitement.

2007
Game 42 – March 15, 2007
CONCACAF Champions’ Cup Semifinals, Leg 1
Dynamo 2, Pachuca
0

This season also had a lot of good days to choose from, including the
Brad Davis hat trick (#55) against Chivas USA
and the epic second match against Pachuca
(#69). Not to mention another set of playoff heroics, although I missed the FC
Dallas match and the MLS Cup final.

My favorite game, however, came at the beginning of the
season and was the first in Houston
after the MLS Cup championship. It was part of the Dynamo’s first foray into international
competition and, of course, came one day late thanks to that power failure.
This was the one and only time I stood with El Batallon and the Texian Army for
a game, and I was surprised but thrilled as the Dynamo beat Pachuca, even getting what I hoped would be a
decisive second goal from Chris Wondolowski. Later, watching the television
broadcast on DVR, I took great pride in picking myself out of the crowd, feeling I had some small part in the Dynamo’s first win over a Mexican club.

2008
Game 108 – July 29, 2008
SuperLiga semifinals
Dynamo 2, Pachuca
0

After working on gamedays in 2007, I joined the Dynamo staff
full-time in 2008, so the memories became even more vivid. Although my first
game on staff (#84), my first official road trip (#91), and the Open Cup
shootout loss (#102) stood out, this game was my debut and effective tryout as radio
broadcaster. It therefore remains maybe the most nervous I have ever been
before a game, which always makes a good night that much sweeter.

I remember long spells of Pachuca possession and a Tuzos goal being
controversially disallowed early in the second half. Then came the
breakthroughs, with De Ro serving a corner kick to Craig Waibel, who skimmed a
header to the back post for Bobby to crash it home. What a moment that was,
finally breaking through against a club that had knocked Houston out of two tournaments the year
before. Corey Ashe’s second goal – on a header, no less! – sealed the night
and, combined with getting through the broadcast, provided more than adequate
cause for celebration.

Game 116 – September 13, 2008
Dynamo 1, San Jose
Earthquakes 1 (at Santa Clara, CA)

I’m cheating by picking two games for 2008, but I have to
mention this one because it includes the unique experience of being with the team
while Hurricane Ike was hitting Houston.
Throughout the entire trip, which was extended due to the storm, players and
coaches were regularly on the phone with their families back in Houston. It was kind of a
surreal experience to be in terrific weather proceeding as if everything was
normal when we knew that it wasn’t back home.

Although dramatic game-winners from De Ro against San
Francisco (#161) and Stuart against San Jose (#163) were part of a memorable
home stretch, that San Jose road trip had some of the oddest circumstances in
which the Dynamo have ever played.

2009
Game 161 – August 26, 2009
CONCACAF Champions League, Group A
Dynamo 1, Árabe Unido 1 (at La Chorrera, Panama)

There was a lot to choose from last year; the season was nothing if
not exciting. From broadcasting on a telephone for the Open Cup match in
Seattle (#153) to a Brad Davis game-winner against 10 men (#165) to the
frenetic stretch that carried the Dynamo to the Western Conference final (#s
171-173), I felt like we were on the edge of our seat all year.

The most memorable game for me, however, was that crazy
night in Panama.
As a radio broadcaster, you know your listening audience will increase drastically
when the game is not televised live, and I knew it that night. To try and describe the
remote location, the emotional energy in the stadium, five red cards, the
dramatic result, and two power outages was one of the biggest challenges I’ve
faced and one of the most fun to tackle. It was a fun night, in an
I-wish-the-ref-had-been-better-and-Houston-had-won-but-at-least-we-went-home-safe
sort of way.

That’s definitely a day I’ll never forget, from the ride to
the game (we felt like we were in Jurassic
Park
at times) to realizing that Mariano Rivera had pitched on the field
next to ours to switching radio booths to avoid being next to the home
broadcaster to having Panamanian media members flick me off after the tying goal.
An interesting night and an unforgettable one, to say the least.

2010
Game 178 – April 17, 2010
Dynamo 3, Chivas USA 0

This year has been plenty memorable too, occasionally in frustrating
ways, but we’ve still had some moments of elation, such as yet another dramatic
night against Pachuca (#193) and Brian Mullan’s
never-say-die goal against New York
(#197).

But for something to remember, I’m going with this warm, hazy,
spring afternoon that seemed to provide everything you could want in a game as
a Dynamo fan. Two spectacular first-half goals, clear emotion from both Geoff
Cameron and Lovel Palmer in their celebrations, and a team that put the game
away in the second half with a brilliant Davis run and feed to Oduro.

Teams live for the dramatic moments but subsist on regular, ordinary winning. This was the first dominant win of the new season, and it
filled us all with the optimism we search for in sports. That optimism does not
always yield results, but we can always remember that there have been and will
be days like this, when players in orange can do nothing wrong and all is right
with the world. May Dynamo fans see many more of these days in the club’s next
200 games.

 

HAVE YOUR SAY
Where were you during these games? What Dynamo games
stand out the most to you and why were they so memorable? Post your answers
here: