Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Montreal Impact Draft Brian Ching in MLS Expansion Draft

The Houston Dynamo took a gamble this week by leaving striker Brian Ching unprotected for today's expansion draft, hoping that Ching's age and salary would prevent the Montreal Impact from drafting him. Additionally, Brian Ching made it clear that if he was drafted by Montreal, he would retire.

We'll soon find out if Brian Ching's threat to retire was a bluff, because he was the Montreal Impact's first pick in today's expansion draft.

During the short question and answer portion of the draft, Jesse Marsch of the Impact, made a comment about other teams being interested in Ching, which suggests the Impact have already looked into the prospect of trading Ching.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Galaxy's Triumvirate Wins Los Angeles its Third MLS Cup

On Sunday evening in a rainy Carson, California it seemed that all the stars had aligned for MLS, for AEG, for Don Garber, and for the Designated Player concept as David Beckham, Robbie Keane, and Landon Donovan teamed up to give the Los Angeles Galaxy the 2011 MLS Cup winning goal in the 72nd minute at the Home Depot Center.

Going into Sunday's Cup Final, featuring the Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo, all the focus was on the Galaxy, winner of the 2011 MLS Supporters Shield by picking up 67 points over the course of the 34 game regular season. After having lost the 2009 MLS Cup final to Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks, all the talk was about how it was the Galaxy's time to finally win the Cup again, having last won it in 2005. More pressure was added to the Galaxy by the fact that Beckham's contract is about to expire and winning the Cup would give a sheen of success to the Designated Player system and the so-called "Beckham Experiment."

The extended break between the Conference Finals and the MLS Cup Final seemed to give the advantage to the Galaxy, who also enjoyed home field advantage, by giving them time to get healthy and cooling the momentum of the Dynamo, who were riding a 9 match unbeaten streak into the Cup Final. However, the rainy weather and choppy pitch seemed to favor the Dynamo, a physical team that relies on set pieces and counters, over the Galaxy, a finesse team that relies on smooth passing and flow.

Each team dominated portions of the match, but it was clear that the Dynamo were suffering due to the absence of midfield Brad Davis. Without Davis' skill on deadballs and management of the midfield, Dynamo attacks tended to break down too easily and the team seemed to lose focus too easily. Meanwhile, the Galaxy, who only made one substitution during the course of the match, managed to keep their focus, keep their cool and finally found the one goal, the only goal needed to win the match and give the Galaxy franchise its third MLS Cup.


Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Houston Dynamo Memories of Cups Past: Stuart Holden

Since yesterday's post dealt with a former Houston Dynamo player who was a member of the squads that won the 2006 and 2007 MLS Cups, a video, shown below, that I came across made me decide to do a post about another member of those Dynamo championship teams: Stuart Holden.

Holden, who grew up in Sugar Land, Texas, a suburb of Houston, joined the Dynamo in 2006 and made his MLS debut in a 1-1 draw at New England Revolution on May 27th. Over the course of the season, Holden managed to see action in 13 matches. When the 2006 MLS Cup final against New England Revolution came down to penalty kicks, Holden converted the Dynamo's second penalty kick. Houston won that match on penalty kicks.

In 2007, Holden saw increased playing time, primarily as a result of an injury suffered by Brad Davis. Over the course of 17 matches, Holden picked up 3 goals and 5 assists for the Dynamo. Although Holden did not start in the 2007 MLS Cup final, he was substituted on in the 80th minute. In the end, the Dynamo beat New England Revolution, 2-1.

When Dwayne De Rosario departed the Dynamo after the 2008 season, the team looked to Holden to step into the midfield hole that resulted in the Dynamo lineup as a result of De Rosario's departure. Although the Dynamo did not make it back to the MLS Cup Final during the remainder of Holden's tenure, his time and development in Houston landed him a spot on the US National Team in the summer of 2009 and with the Bolton, of the English Premier League, in early 2010.

Currently, Holden is still recovering from an injury sustained in early 2011.

This is the video that set this post into motion, even though it does not cover Holden's time with the Dynamo:

Here's some highlights of Holden from his time with the Dynamo:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dwayne De Rosario Named 2011 MLS MVP

Houston Dynamo fans will be a bit disappointed when they wake up this morning to discover that Brad Davis was not named the 2011 MLS MVP, but that disappointment will be tempered a bit since Dwayne De Rosario, once an important member of the Dynamo, is this season's MVP. In fact, the last time De Rosario won the MVP, in 2007, he was a member of the back-to-back MLS Cup winning Dynamo.

Although De Rosario, who played for Toronto, New York, and D.C. this past season, did not make it to the playoffs, by the numbers alone, he did beat out the other nominees for MVP, Brad Davis and Brek Shea. This season, De Rosario had 16 goals and 12 assists, while Davis had 4 goals and 16 assists and Shea had 11 goals and 4 assists.

Brek Shea's FC Dallas, which played in the 2010 MLS Cup Final, made it to the playoffs, but was knocked out by RedBull New York in the Wild Card. Meanwhile, Davis has been an important part of the Houston Dynamo's run to the 2011 MLS Cup Final, but he sustained an injury in the Eastern Conference Final and will not play for the Dynamo on Sunday.

The 2011 MLS Cup Final will take place at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on Sunday November 20, 2011, at 8:00 pm central time. The match will be televised on ESPN and Galavision.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Houston Dynamo & The Road to the 2011 MLS Cup

The 2011 MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California is only days away, and with the Houston Texans on a NFL bye week, the Dynamo have been feeling the love in their home city. On Wednesday evening a rally was held in Houston for the Dynamo before their departure to California. Meanwhile, in an effort to help ensure that the core Dynamo fans make it out to California for the final, Oscar De La Hoya, who is a part owner of the team, chartered a bus to take Dynamo supporters to Sunday's match.

Not surprisingly, most commentators have given the nod to Los Angeles Galaxy to win the match, but as their road to the Cup final has shown, the Dynamo should not be ignored.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The 2011 MLS Cup & NBC Coverage

Maybe it's just happening when I'm watching, but based on my (unscientific observations) it seems that NBC has made an attempt to devote a little more time to coverage of the 2011 MLS Cup, which takes place at 8:00 pm central time on Sunday. In light of the news that NBC Universal has obtained a broadcast rights package for MLS matches starting with the 2012 season, it isn't surprising that NBC stations and programs have given airtime to the 2011 MLS Cup. Considering that this 2011 MLS Cup features the high profile LA Galaxy taking on a team that won back-to-back MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007, the Houston Dynamo, it's a good match for NBC to take advantage of in an effort to raise the profile of MLS on its programming.

The first clip is from Morning Joe on MSNBC, the second clip is from Early Today, and the third clip is from Channel 2 KPRC in Houston, Texas. Granted the last clip probably would have been produced even if NBC had not obtained MLS broadcast rights, since Houston Dynamo are involved in the match.

I tried to find video from the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles, but this is all I could find, a photo gallery.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Houston Dynamo Players React to Advancing to the 2011 MLS Cup Final

Photo by Chris Canetti

Following Sunday afternoon's 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City in the 2011 MLS Cup Eastern Conference Final, members of the Houston Dynamo shared their thoughts on the win and the upcoming MLS Cup Final with Simon Borg of

The Houston Dynamo will be facing the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2011 MLS Cup Final on Sunday November 20th at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. The match, which starts at 8:00 pm central time, will be broadcast on ESPN and Galavision.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Houston Dynamo Advance to the 2011 MLS Cup Final with a 2-0 Win over Sporting Kansas City

For the third time six seasons the Houston Dynamo are headed to the MLS Cup Final. This season's trip was secured by the Dynamo on Sunday November 6th when they beat Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park 2-0 thanks to second half goals by Andre Hainault and Carlo Costly.

Coming into this afternoon's match, the Houston Dynamo were riding an 8 match unbeaten streak, but the last time they had lost a match was to Sporting Kansas City, a 3-0 defeat back on September 10th at Livestrong Sporting Park. That lost must not have been too far from the minds of the Dynamo and their coach, Dominic Kinnear, because the team started the match with an aggressive and physical approach, showing that they were there to win the match. But then the Dynamo got a huge scare in the 38th minute when midfielder, Brad Davis, had to be subbed out of the match with an injury. Brian Ching might be the captain of the Dynamo, but Davis has been the club's heart this season picking up 16 assists.

Jermaine Taylor was subbed in for Davis and during the remaining minutes of the first half the confidence that the Dynamo had at the beginning of the match was absent. The shakiness of the Houston squad was still there in the beginning minutes of the second half, but then, in the 52nd minute, Andre Hainault picked up the match's first goal, thanks to an assist from Taylor. The Dynamo had again found their confidence and managed to hold back a Kansas City squad desperately seeking an equalizer.

The Dynamo sealed up the match in the 87th minute when Carlo Costly, who had subbed in for Brian Ching in the 77th minute, scored the match's second goal and put Sporting Kansas City and its fans to sleep.

With Los Angeles Galaxy's 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Sunday evening, the 2011 MLS Cup Final will be a rematch of the 2009 MLS Cup Western Conference Final.

The MLS Cup Final will be held on Sunday November 20th at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. The match, which will be aired on Galavision and ESPN, starts at 8:00 pm central time.

Last Updated 3:56 am on 11/7/2011.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Zygo Soccer Report in the Raw: Dynamo 1-0 Union

Photo by Katy Umaña

The Houston Dynamo beat the Philadelphia Union on Thursday night, 1-0, to advance to the 2011 MLS Cup Eastern Conference Semifinal. This episode of The Zygo Soccer Report features raw post-match audio from Stuart Holden, Chris Canetti, Bobby Boswell, Adam Moffat, Brad Davis, Brian Ching, and Dominic Kinnear.

The Dynamo play Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference Final on Sunday November 6, 2011. The match starts at 4:30 p.m. central time and will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel.

I apologize for the quality of my intro audio, had to use different equipment to record that part, the rest of it is the high quality you find on previous podcasts.

Music in this episode from Girl in a Coma, Cage the Elephant, Dum Dum Girls, and The Black Kids.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Brian Ching Says Goodbye to Robertson Stadium & Hello to Eastern Conference Finals: Dynamo 1-0 Union

Photo by Katy Umaña

On April 2, 2006, over 25,400 sports fans packed into Robertson Stadium on the University of Houston campus to see the first ever MLS match to be played in Houston. The match featured the newly minted Houston Dynamo, formerly the San Jose Earthquakes, hosting the Colorado Rapids and the star of the night was a Hawaiian forward named Brian Ching who scored the first goal and then three more in the 5-2 Dynamo victory. Therefore, it was fitting that it was Brian Ching who scored the last Dynamo goal, the last MLS goal, at Robertson Stadium, ensuring that the Dynamo would advance to the 2011 MLS Cup Eastern Conference Final.

On Thursday November 3, 2011, over 24,700 Houston soccer fans were on hand to watch the Houston Dynamo host the Philadelphia Union in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinal and to say goodbye to Robertson Stadium. This past Sunday, the Dynamo picked up a 2-1 win at Philadelphia in the first leg of the semifinal. Brian Ching picked up his goal in first half stoppage time. Fittingly, Brad Davis picked up an assist on that goal. After 90 plus minutes, all the Dynamo needed was Ching's goal, giving them a 1-0 win in the second leg and a 3-1 aggregate victory in the MLS Cup Eastern Conference Semifinals.

As you will hear in an upcoming podcast, the significance of Ching picking up the last Robertson Stadium goal was not lost on those connected to the Dynamo organization. Following the match, Chris Canetti, Stuart Holden, Dominic Kinnear, and several Dynamo players all reflected on the fact that Ching goals book end the franchise's Robertson Stadium era.

This season will mark the 4th time in six years that the Dynamo have advanced to their respective conference finals, the last time being in 2009 when they lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy in a controversial match. In the sporting landscape of Houston where the Astros are considered one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball, the Rockets have been so poor that the NBA lockout barely seems to register as a concern, and the Texans are just now starting to have a serious chance at making the playoffs, the Houston Dynamo, with its MLS Cup championships in 2006 and 2007, have truly been a bright spot, bringing pride to the city. A new era in professional soccer in Houston will begin next season when the Dynamo move into their new downtown stadium, but one thing that never changes is the Dynamo's drive to win the MLS Cup.

The Dynamo don't have much time to relax and enjoy their victory because they'll soon have to travel to Kansas City where they'll face Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference Final on Sunday November 6, 2011. The match starts at 4:30 p.m. central time and will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

City of Houston to Hold Dynamo Rally on Wednesday

Leg two of the MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals match-up between the Houston Dynamo and Philadelphia Union takes place at Robertson Stadium in Houston at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday November 3, 2011, and in preparation for the match, the City of Houston will be holding a Rally to support the Dynamo, who won the 2006 and 2007 MLS Cups, on Wednesday November 2, 2011. The rally will be held at the City Hall Farmers Market between 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

The first leg of this semifinals tie took place on Sunday in Philadelphia, with the Houston Dynamo picking up a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Andre Hainault and Calen Carr. The team that picks up the most goals in the two match tie will face the winner of the Sporting Kansas City - Colorado Rapids Semifinals Series on Sunday November 6, 2011. Kansas City currently leads that series after beating Colorado, 2-0, on Sunday.

Tickets for Thursday's match are going fast, but there are still some available via the Houston Dynamo website and by calling 713-276-GOAL.

[VIDEO] Pitch Invasion in Romania Gets Violent

While one of the great things about football is the role that club supporters can play during matches: songs, chants, and visual displays can sometimes inspire their club to find that next goal or not give up the lead during a match. Unfortunately, this past weekend some fans of Petrolul Ploiești in Romania took things a step further when one fan, Dragos Petrut Enache, sucker punched a Steaua București defender, George Galamaz. Not surprisingly, Galamaz's teammates took matters into their own hands until Enache was hauled off by stadium security/police. But the violence wasn't over yet, as Enache was led off the pitch other Petrolul Ploiești fans began throwing flares onto the match, managing to hit Steaua keeper, Ciprian Tatarusanu, with one of the flares.

The match, which Steaua was leading 2-0, was abandoned and the Romanian FA have since fined Ploiesti an amount close to £2,000.

The supporter culture in the United States has grown significantly since the birth of MLS in the mid-1990s, and while there have been some unfortunate incidents involving violence, violent pitch invasions of the sort that occurred in Romania this past weekend have not occurred, let's hope it stays that way.