As you may have heard, Houston soccer fans are rejoicing after the Houston Dynamo beat Chivas USA in 2-0 victory yesterday at Robertson Stadium. It was a dramatic match, featuring a bench-clearing brawl and a series-ending goal in stoppage time from team stud Brian Ching.
Now the team faces the Colorado Rapids at Robertson Stadium 6 p.m. this Sunday, November 5, for the Western Conference title. A huge win, to be sure, and one that just about every local, orange-clad Dynamo fan expected. But who was most shocked by yesterday's championship berth? Team president Oliver Luck.
"Well, I'll say we expected to be in the Championships, but we didn't expect to be hosting," he says. "The players and those of us in the front office felt like we could beat Chivas in our quarterfinal match." So what was the big surprise?
"We didn't expect Dallas to lose," says Luck. "They had a great season, they won the Western Conference with a nice gap. We were second place — but a distant second, if you will. They were playing at home; they were up one goal from the first game. And the championship game is in their home park up in Frisco. So I thought they'd be really motivated to play a championship game at home in front of their fans — what a great home field advantage that would be. So I thought they were a shoo-in to beat Colorado. And they lost." Which meant, for Luck, the "holy crap" moment.
"Yeah, clearly there was an element of shock," he adds, "but I took great pleasure in Dallas's misfortune."
Luck says he was in the office at 6 a.m. today in preparation for "Operation Sellout," meaning "in sports terms, we have to 'turn it around' in five working days," he says. "We have the stadium reserved, but we've got to get the word out, sell the place out and all the other logistical things." The team is planning a public rah-rah/pep rally type of event, though details are sketchy at best right now. Look for something — if anything — to happen Thursday or Friday.
"For the fans, this is great because you have a championship-level event, and they don't come around that often," says Luck. "It would be like the Astros hosting the ALCS, the Rockets hosting the Western Conference Finals, or they Texans hosting the AFC Championship." (The Texans hosting the AFC title game? Oliver, you so crazy!)
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Sure, there are only five business days -- and counting — to sell out the big game. But Luck thinks old fans and new fans will fill Robertson up this weekend. After all, he says, just look at the support so far:
"Last week, we asked the mayor to ask the city to 'Go Orange.' And it's absolutely shocking as you drive around Houston's neighborhoods, whether it's in the suburbs or the city, to see the response — people putting orange vegetables in front of their doors."
He really had us going for a minute, until...
"Yeah, and this whole trick-or-treat thing tomorrow? It's actually a Dynamo support vehicle. So I say 'Thank you, Mayor White.' It's really amazing how people listen to the mayor and City Council." — Steven Devadanam