A recipe for long-term success

Dynamo defender Hainault leading the team in minutes


Photo Credit: 
Drew Hallowell / Getty Images

This article appeared in the October 10, 2010 issue of the Houston Dynamo Gameday Magazine.

Andrew Hainault does not get a lot
of attention for his role with the Dynamo. In fact, his name was mispronounced
‘Hay-nalt’ by team staff, broadcasters, and fans until he brought it up for
correction late last season. Now that everybody knows the accurate pronunciation
(‘Hay-no’), he has set about making himself a regular.

The redheaded
24-year-old leads the Dynamo in games (29, tied with Dominic Oduro), starts
(27), and minutes played (2,466) in all competitions in 2010, also leading in
games and minutes in MLS play. He recently scored his first goal of the season
and his second career with the Dynamo, powering in a rebound against
Philadelphia on October 2.

Some of the credit for his stamina, however,
has to go to his chef: Andrew himself.

Along with fellow defender Eddie
Robinson, Hainault is one of the team’s cooking nuts, regularly cooking for
himself and his fiancée, Catherine.

“Some people eat to live, but I live
to eat,” Hainault said. “I try to eat the good stuff, the natural stuff –
whole-grain, low-fat, whatever. If you’re putting good fuel in, you’re going to
be putting out better stuff.”

He recommends as his signature dish –
although not necessarily as a pregame meal – salmon with teriyaki and sesame
seeds, alongside brown rice with Parmesan cheese and grilled asparagus with
carrots, admitting he adds a bit of honey to the carrots. His real weakness,
however, is cheese.

“Catherine and I are both French-Canadian, and we’ve
got great cheese in Québec, so we’re both cheese people,” Hainault said. “Other
than that, I don’t use too many spices or sauces. I like to keep it pretty
simple. We do rice, vegetables, meat or fish, and then we do lots of lentils and
beans, too.”

A regular throughout this season, Hainault’s off-field
habits have played a big part in keeping him fit and able to play in almost any
game, regardless of the schedule or competition.

“He really takes care of
himself off the field,” goalkeeper Pat Onstad said. “He drives the training
staff nuts because he’s in the training room a long time, but he makes sure he’s
ready to go, day in and day out, and that’s not an easy thing to do in our
league with all the travel we have. To know you can count on Andrew week in and
week out, that’s a nice badge of honor.”

Hainault says he is just trying
to follow the lead of the Dynamo staff and the other players, like Onstad, who
make sure to prepare themselves between games.

“If you want to be a
professional player and have a long career, you’ve got to do those sorts of
things,” Hainault said. “Somebody like Pat, he’s playing at this age because of
the ice baths, the way he eats, and the way he trains. You look at that, and you
think, ‘I still want to be playing soccer when I’m 35 or 40,’ so that’s the way
to do it.”

Hainault followed Onstad’s lead in another way as well, making
his way to Houston in 2009 after a formative stint in Europe. A native of the
French-speaking Canadian province of Québec, Hainault played briefly for the
Montreal Impact in 2004 before signing with a small club called SIAD Most in the
Czech Republic at the young age of 18. He played for Canada at the 2005 FIFA
World Youth Championship in the Netherlands and saw regular playing time for
Canada in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

With his contract in the Czech
Republic set to expire at the end of 2008, Hainault, by then 22, hoped for a
return to North America. His Canadian connection, however, sent him a far cry
from the Great White North.

“The first thing that came to mind was that I
was excited about coming to MLS,” Hainault said. “The second thing was, ‘Texas?’
I was a little unsure.”

Recommended by Onstad, a teammate of Hainault’s
with the Canadian Gold Cup squad, and researched by head coach Dominic Kinnear,
Hainault first made his way to Houston in February 2009.

“We heard he
wanted to come to America, so I went and got [DVDs of] three or four games on
him – the Gold Cup for Canada and a game he played in the Czech Republic,”
Kinnear said. “I spoke to some people with the Canadian Soccer Association about
him, and they all said that you would do well to pick him up, and that made it
pretty easy.”

Hainault was initially invited as a center back, his
natural position, and thought of as a potential replacement for Bobby Boswell,
who was out of contract at the time. When Boswell re-signed with the club,
Hainault wound up training as an outside back and eventually earned Kinnear’s
confidence at that spot, too. After a lengthy dispute with SIAD Most, which
claimed Hainault was still under contract, the Dynamo added him to the roster,
but playing time was still hard to come by on the Houston defensive

“When I first came here, I said I was a central defender, but
I knew that we had Eddie [Robinson] and Bobby and Geoff [Cameron] coming in,”
Hainault said. “It just so happened that we were in New England, and I was on
the bench, and we needed a left back, so I came in, and the rest was

After stepping in that day as a substitute, Hainault started
every remaining game for which he was eligible in 2009, totaling 27 starts in
all competitions despite missing time due to national team duty and a red-card
suspension. He split time between the left- and right-back spots, embracing the
transition as a way to get on the field.

“He wants to be part of the
team, and anywhere he thinks he can help or anywhere Dom puts him, he’s happy to
play,” Onstad said. “He’s a right-footed player, so when he’s played left back,
that’s a little more difficult in terms of being on the ball. But he’s done a
great job at either left back or right back and really deserves to be on the

He has more than earned his keep since that first preseason, and
he claims to have even figured out Texas as well.

“You hear stories
living abroad, Texas this and Texas that, so I was unsure about that,” Hainault
said. “I wasn’t sure about the weather, but of course now I know: It’s HOT. But
seriously, Pat and Dwayne [De Rosario] spoke very highly of the coaches and the
team and the great atmosphere they had, and you can’t go wrong with

A successful recipe if there’s ever been one.