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:
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.
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.
Game 108 – July 29, 2008
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.
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.
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: