The Houston Dynamo endured a lengthy day of travel on Sunday, winding up in Columbus rather than Houston after an odyssey of more than 15 hours. Having left the hotel in Kansas City at 8 a.m. CT, the Dynamo did not get their entire travel party to Columbus - site of Wednesday's match against the Eastern Conference co-leaders, the Crew - until well after midnight ET.
The club's original flight from Kansas City to Houston took off but was forced to circle and land after less than an hour because its landing gear did not retract properly. After it was established that the landing gear could not be fixed on the spot, players and staff returned to the terminal to kill time while Nick Kowba, the club's director of team operations, pursued alternate travel options.
Due to a lack of airplane and crew availability, finding a flight back to Houston on Sunday proved impractical, especially with the club's departure for Columbus scheduled for Monday afternoon. So the Dynamo were switched to another airline for a night flight to Columbus.
The players spent the afternoon watching football on TV, playing cards, battling for power outlets to charge computers and phones, and - last but certainly not least - closely tracking players from their fantasy football teams. Eventually, boarding passes for the evening flight - along with meal vouchers - were handed out, but several players and staffers were bumped to yet another flight on yet another airline, connecting through Chicago.
After players switched terminals and went through security again, the flight carrying the majority of the team arrived in Columbus roughly on schedule - shortly after 9 p.m. ET - but, predictably enough, none of the team's checked bags had successfully navigated the transition between airlines, leaving most players without a change of clothes and the team without equipment. The flight through Chicago, meanwhile, was delayed, meaning the remaining travelers had an even longer day than most.
The snafu was hardly the Dynamo's only complication this year: The club's flight to Toronto in May resulted in lost baggage that forced several players to compete with borrowed cleats; the Dynamo endured a delay of roughly eight hours in Chicago; and visa issues plagued the return trip from Vancouver.
In the end, the Dynamo still expect to train in Columbus on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday night's match. Winless on the road this season and winless in Columbus since 2007, perhaps the travel nightmare can help reverse the trend.