HOUSTON DYNAMO

Name gaffe behind them, our new soccer team kicks butt

No one on the Dynamo has bought matching Hummers for their family members. None of them peddles ground beef and fresh produce for H-E-B. Not even one has made the news for his haircut. Nope, they pretty much just play sports. Major League Soccer, to be exact -- something long overdue in Houston.

The original Houston Dynamos (notice the s) played in the North American Soccer League from 1978 through 1980, and Houston soccer had a few more incarnations over the years. With the Dynamo, however, we've finally moved up to the East Side. And if the team can overcome Houston's rocky history of false starts and short-lived teams, we know they can overcome anything on the field.

When the San Jose Earthquakes moved to Houston in 2005, they brought with them an impressive record, including MLS Cups in 2001 and 2003. But their arrival was overshadowed by perhaps the most ridiculous name-choosing gaffe in sports history: The team was to be called Houston 1836, for the year of Texas's independence from Mexico. Of course, many of the team's Mexican-American supporters had a different take.

Like the team, Brian Ching just won't give up.
Thom Shea
Like the team, Brian Ching just won't give up.

But all that's in the past. Now they're the Dynamo. And, as of this writing, the team is ranked second in the Western Conference, meaning we could be in for even more excitement.

Of course, there's a contingent of fans who are always excited. The Texian Army was there from the beginning. These soccer hounds are into serious tailgating and serious cheering in the stands, where they have their own section. And their band plays all game long. They're not as much fun to look at as the Houston Texans Cheerleaders, but they do keep the fans excited and maintain an amazing level of energy during the game.

Now let's talk talent. Goalie Pat Onstad kept the Earthquakes undefeated at home in 2005, a first in MLS history. It's playing like that that won him the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award in 2003.

Forward Brian Ching had a hell of a start in Houston, scoring four goals against the Colorado Rapids in the Dynamo's first game. He's only the seventh player in MLS history to pull off four goals in a game.

Coach Dominic Kinnear helped the team win the MLS Supporters Shield in 2005, an award recognizing the team with the best regular-season record.

Those are only a few examples of what makes this team such a coup for Houston. But while attendance was great for the first few games, it's slipped as of late, meaning that not everyone is getting the message. And the message is this: Soccer kicks ass. This team kicks ass. And if you're going to pay way too much for a hot dog and a warm Miller Light anyway, you might as well do it while watching one of the most exciting teams Houston has to offer.

 
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