I was crushed up against a chain link fence and I couldn't fight my way free. I was yelling: "Stop It!" "Quit it!" "Get Away!" But the gang of pre-teen and teenage boys wouldn't stop. And the cops standing nearby shooting the shit didn't seem to notice. Finally, employing skills learned on the soccer field, I brought my hands up in front of my chest which brought my elbows out and I began swinging. "Get off me!"
It worked and I stepped clear. It was a scary nuts, adrenalin surge, but all worth it for the bright orange, furniture store T-shirt I now held in my left hand. No one bothered my purse over my right shoulder. It was a battle for the Dynamo Western Championship shirt, which I dropped on my daughter's lap a few moments later back up in Section 202 of Robertson Stadium while the orange boys were about to resume second-half play down below.
Section 202 was where a bunch of the Colorado Rapids fans got parked. Gracious at the start, exuberant when the first score on a penalty shot went their way, their mood turned bluer to match their shirts as the night wore on. "Offsides" became their mantra. Britt and Susan Wasson had flown down from Tulsa for Britt's brother Daniel, No. 33 on the Rapids, but he stayed on the bench all night. Britt played some soccer he said, but never like his brother.
The Dynamo crowd has been changed and revitalized from its whitebread beginnings. Maybe Hispanics were just waiting till the soccer got good, but the Ole song was out in full force and the game was dissected in a variety of languages Sunday night.
Proof that the Dynamo are for real: Chris Ruhnke and Paul Belgeri of University of St. Thomas and Donald Stein of HBU stripped off their shirts and sat through the game in pale orange and white painted splendor. Asked what they used to create their creamsickle look, the trio say they usually used crayolas but didn't have any this time, admitting the subsitute — which they didn't disclose — didn't work as well. "It just has to wash off afterwards," Stein said.
So we got bigtime fans of all shapes, sizes and colors. The stands were filled and the folks went home happy.
Still to be worked out: A less raggedly field. One with a roof in thunderstorm happy Houston. Women's restrooms that don't flood. Eeeeyu.
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Most of all getting food and drink into the stands. The lines were long and slow and to get anything you had to miss the game unless you were lucky enough to catch something at halftime.
Note to Oliver Luck: Forget the water debate of the summer. We need more beer. Hire more hawkers. Give us more beer.
And full marks to the woman who continued working the crowd from Gallery Furniture. A dominatrix in full control of her audience, she made them behave, she made them wait, she made them whimper. She withheld her favors. "Wait a minute. You were just here. You're not getting another shirt," she told one kid.
And there they were, willing to cry, to do anything for a momento of professional soccer in Houston on a championship night. -- Margaret Downing