In anticipation of Brian Ching’s retirement at the conclusion of the 2013 season, HoustonDynamo.com will count down the Top 10 Brian Ching Moments each week leading up to the Brian Ching Testimonial Match, presented by BBVA Compass. No. 9: The final goal at Robertson Stadium.
If you were to create the quintessential Dynamo goal, odds are it would be this: a Brad Davis set piece delivery—probably in the playoffs—headed home by Brian Ching. Two pillars of the club, doing what they do best when it really matters.
On November 3, 2011 against the Philadelphia Union, the Men in Orange provided that goal to close out the final Dynamo game at Robertson Stadium; poetically marking the end of one era in the club's history and forging the way for the next. In the second leg of a conference semifinal matchup against the Union and already up 2-1 on aggregate, Ching rose above the Philly defense and headed Davis’ free kick to the far post to ensure Houston’s passage to the Eastern Conference final and to provide one last moment to cap their six-year stay on the University of Houston campus.
“For me to get a header off a Brad Davis free kick, it’s kind of what we were doing the entire time we were at Robertson,” Ching told HoustonDynamo.com. “It was a pretty special night. The fans made it special.
“To score that game and kind of seal it for our team in that series and it being the last goal [at Robertson]—looking back on it, it’s an extremely special moment. Not only a special moment for me, but for the fans that came out to the first game in 2006 that were also there for that last game as well.”
While the franchise searched for a new, soccer-specific home since its arrival in Houston, Robertson was a continuation of a older era in MLS: playing in a larger football stadium, with gridiron lines from UH football games ever-present on the field late in the season.
The stadium itself was old, originally built in 1942, and UH demolished it to make way for a new stadium just a year after that final Dynamo game. But “The Rob” will always hold a special place in Dynamo lore for the moments produced there, beginning and ending with goals from Ching.
“Robertson is a part of our tradition. It’s where we established ourselves as one of the premier teams in the league, with one of the best home field advantages that the league has ever seen,” said Ching. “You can say what you want about the facilities, but we treated it as our home while we were there and we defended it like that.”
The Dynamo continued that tradition to their new home at BBVA Compass Stadium, stretching their home undefeated streak that started at Robertson to a record-breaking 36 games in 2013. While it’s not too far-fetched to call BBVA Compass Stadium “The House that Ching Built,” it’s because of the foundation he laid at Robertson. Though, in typical Brian Ching fashion, he’s quick to pass the praise to someone else.
“For us our home field advantage has always been about our fans, and our fans came to that stadium and brought an atmosphere. That’s what we fed off and that’s why we were so successful there.”