It’s 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and the city of Houston sleeps, recovering from a night of madness that saw Baylor University and Duke University power their way to the Elite 8 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. But if you take a short drive up I-45, you’ll come to a scene that is not uncommon in this part of the state. More than 100 men, women, and children are gathered, drums in hand, ready to make the five-hour trek to support the team they love, the Houston Dynamo.
Last weekend marked the beginning of the fifth year of Dynamo soccer, as well as some of the strongest support groups in any sport: the Texian Army and El Batallón. The Texian Army sponsored a major bus outing to Opening Day last weekend, so I decided to tag along. Founded in 2006, the Texian Army is a regular attendee at any Dynamo game, home or away. They come in all ages, shapes, and sizes, but the one thing they have in common is the love for their soccer team.
“It’s like a brotherhood,” said Sam Cook, a member of the TA since 2007. Although Cook lives in Dover, N.H., he flew to Houston this past weekend to partake in the five-hour bus ride to Frisco for the game against FC Dallas. Cook attends on average 12 games per year, including at least three in Houston. “We are all people with similar interests who come together to support our team.”
This past weekend, the Texian Army brought two buses filled with supporters to Frisco. Only minutes after they arrived, the crowd made its presence felt. With drums pounding and flags waving, the supporters began their chants that echoed down I-45. At every pass, throw, or whistle, the Texian Army made its voices heard, at times drowning out the supporters of the home team.
Jeff Moreno, a member since 2007, recalls the first time he encountered the Texian Army when he attended a watch party for one of Houston’s games against Mexican club Pachuca.
“I was taken aback by the passion and excitement the fans had for the Dynamo,” Moreno said. “It’s such a beautiful feeling, celebrating the great game of soccer with such passionate fans.”
Moreno attends every home Dynamo game and as many road games as possible.
“We try to help the team any way we can, and no matter what happens out there, we will continue to show our support for the Dynamo,” he added.
Chris Smink, a current board member of the Texian Army, admits that he was not born a soccer fan, but one game changed all that.
“One day I was walking to the library, and I saw a group of people dressed in orange heading toward Robertson Stadium,” he said. “So I followed them to the stadium and watched Brian Ching score four goals in a 5-2 win against the Colorado Rapids. I was immediately hooked.”
Smink said that being a member of the TA is more than just a hobby for him, it’s a lifestyle.
“I wake up every morning wondering about how we, as an organization, can help the Dynamo,” he said. “We’ve got drums, flags, and voices, and regardless of the outcome of the game, those things will not go away.”
According to Smink, there are roughly 150 members of the Texian Army that stretch from coast to coast.
“No matter where the Dynamo are playing, there are members of TA there to support,” he added.
Although Saturday's game ended in a draw for the Dynamo, the Texian Army did not despair. They just packed up their drums, put away their flags, and began preparations for the next game.
“Our heart is with the Dynamo,” said Smink. “Wherever they go, we go.”
And you can be sure if the Dynamo are playing at BMO Field on November 21, the Texian Army will be there, flags in hand, ready to support them.