Richard and I were at the game last night, predictably, and it was far and away the best game that I’ve personally attended. Words fail me in describing the electricity of the atmosphere, the fervor of the fans, the heart that our boys displayed out there on the pitch: it was all just amazing. It was a perfect night — just cool enough without being cold — the air was crisp from the afternoon’s rain and the massive Houston skyline behind the stadium seemed to be watching down on us with approval and excitement. And then…we won.
Thank you, Dynamo. Thanks for the hustle and energy, for having players who care and for showing us how much fun this sport can be.
Thank you, Dynamo, for nights like Saturday, when Robertson Stadium is rocking to its concrete bones with a standing-room-only crowd of 30,972 witnessing a 2-0 victory over Kansas City in the MLS Western Conference final.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for reminding us how much fun a sport can be when it all works the way it’s supposed to work.
“This is what you play for,” midfielder Brad Davis. “We couldn’t be any more thankful to the fans. They’ve been absolutely awesome.”
What the Dynamo have done in just two seasons is a message to every other franchise in this city that it’s not about marketing slogans or luxury suites. It’s about winning. Actually, it’s about winning with people like Brian Ching and Pat Onstad and Dwayne De Rosario.
This is about you, too, fans. You showed up early, wore orange, carried signs, sang songs and celebrated wildly. You made it feel special. When it ended, you hung around to savor the moment, to soak it in.
In other words, you get it. If you’re a sports fan who spends too much time fretting over payrolls and arbitration and blown draft picks, you should spend an evening with this little soccer team that’s one victory from a second straight MLS Cup.
“We’re on top of the world right now,” defender Craig Waibel said. “When you’ve got that many people in a stadium for a soccer game, it’s amazing. It’s becoming a real sport. It’s in Houston. It’s in their blood.”
This is sport without the cynicism. Who could be cynical about a team that plays hard and with an attitude?
For instance, Brian Ching. He was kicked in the back of the leg in the second half. A moment later, he seemed ready to take on the entire Kansas City team.
Davis was ready to rumble as well when he was kicked. Those moments made the place noisier and gave the players a sense that on this night at least, they couldn’t be beaten.
The Dynamo were the aggressor from the beginning. They outshot the Wizards 9-1 in the first half and were a pair of Ching near misses from blowing it open quickly.
They got just one goal in the first half, that on a beautiful Nate Jaqua header off a Richard Mulrooney corner kick in the 34th minute. Kansas City entered the game having not allowed a goal in 336 minutes.
That one was enough on a night when the Dynamo got a terrific defensive effort, a night when Onstad didn’t have to make a single save. De Rosario finished the scoring in the 81st minute when he took a pass from Craig Waibel and punched in a left-footed drive.
By then, the crowd was in a full party mood.
“This was 30,000 people that know soccer and care about soccer,” Waibel said. “They’re not out here cheering for random things.”
The Dynamo will play New England for the second straight year for the championship, this time, in Washington.
“We’re a different team at home with our crowd behind us,” Onstad said. “It’s like having 12 or 13 players. It was a great atmosphere. This is a major sport here.”