HoustonDynamo.com will continue to count down the ten best Dynamo games of 2012 through Friday, Dec. 21. With so many great games to choose from, it was difficult to settle on ten, and tougher still to decide how to rank them. We will unveil one game per day, with a look back at what made the game special and include game highlights. Here is #4:
Dynamo 1 : 0 D.C. United
May 12, 2012 - BBVA Compass Stadium Inaugural Match
It is a testament to a historic playoff run that the opening of a new stadium in downtown Houston only reached No. 4 on our list of the Top 10 Dynamo games of 2012. Historically, no moment was more important in 2012 than the May 12 opening of the new orange home of the Dynamo. But with three key playoff wins in 2012, the stadium opener is a strong fourth selection.
After seven road games to begin the 2012 season, they Dynamo were finally ready to open the 13th soccer-specific stadium in Major League Soccer. On a gorgeous 82-degree day on the East End of Houston’s downtown, the Dynamo welcomed D.C. United for the first home game at the soccer palace.
Pregame ceremonies included the unveiling of 2006 and 2007 MLS Cup championship banners. Club legends were honored, including Wade Barrett, Pat Onstad, Eddie Robinson and Craig Waibel. After all of the pomp and circumstance, all that was needed to christen the stadium was a victory.
The game lacked chances early on, with the first real threat arriving in the 33rd minute. Brad Davis swung in a free kick from just outside the penalty area that forced a punched clearance from United goalkeeper Bill Hamid. The rebound sailed to Bobby Boswell, who tried an acrobatic back heel shot that was easily saved by Hamid.
Three minutes later, Houston came even closer. A Davis corner kick was flicked at the front edge of the six-yard box by Geoff Cameron, and it fell to Boswell, who could not keep his shot on target.
The Dynamo continued to create chances through set pieces. Davis curled in another corner kick in the 42nd minute, again targeting the near post, where Andre Hainault flicked a shot that was handled by Hamid.
Houston’s best chance arrived in first half stoppage time. Je-Vaughn Watson settle a ball in front of the box and found Calen Carr out to his right. Carr’s cross was deflected right to Watson, who settled at the top of the box before striking a volley from the penalty spot that sailed over the cross bar.
The Dynamo continued to test D.C., with Adam Moffat taking a chance in the first minute after halftime. The midfielder found space 35 yards from goal and cracked a slicing shot that Hamid parried away after diving to his left.
United’s first chance to score came in the 57th minute. Chris Pontius knifed his way from the center circle through the Dynamo half and passed to Maicon Santos inside the box. Santos slipped by Hainault but fired his shot from eight yards wide of the far post.
The grand moment finally arrived for the Dynamo and capacity crowd of 22,039 in the 67th minute. Davis, one of two remaining original Dynamo players on opening day (along with Brian Ching), received a pass in the center of the field, 40 yards from goal.
He felt the space, took a second touch, and then struck a magnificent strike from 35 yards that bent away from the dive of Hamid. The goalkeeper could only get a palm on it before it hit the side of the net for the opening goal at the glorious new stadium.
Davis’ celebration was six years in the making. The midfielder ran toward the corner, with arms stretched wide, and hopped over the LED advertising boards before walking to the Dynamo supporters section on the Walker End of the stadium. With Ching right behind him, Davis walked to the first row and stood inches from the fans. With his eyes closed and a wide smile he stood for a long moment as the crowd reached a frenzy.
Judging by Davis and Ching’s prolonged embrace with the fans, it seemed they wanted to enjoy the moment as long as possible after waiting for years for their own stadium. Davis even blew a respectful, appreciative kiss to the crowd as he walked back to the field.
United, lacking scoring chances most of the afternoon, had an opportunity to tie the game in stoppage time, with former Dynamo midfielder Dwayne De Rosario stood over a free kick 35 yards from goal. The Canadian bent in a well-placed cross to Daniel Woolard, who headed a shot straight at Tally Hall from ten yards out.
With momentum from opening day and six years of home dominance at Robertson Stadium to build upon, the Dynamo finished with an unbeaten home record in their first season at BBVA Compass Stadium - 11-0-6 in the regular season, 1-0-1 in CONCACAF Champions League play and 2-0 in the playoffs - for an overall mark of 14-0-7. For many, no game was more memorable than May 12.
Return to HoustonDynamo.com on Wednesday for Game #3 on our list of the Top 10 Dynamo games of 2012.