Friday, July 16, 2010

Houston Dynamo – Columbus Crew (10-07-2010)

I split the 350 miles (560 km) between New Orleans over two days, so that I was able to see Germany beat Uruguay at a sports bar in Lake Charles, LA. Some ten minutes before kick-off I parked in front of the Robertson Stadium (for $10), home of the University of Houston football team. Technically, the game is played at the John O’Quinn Field of the Corbin J. Robertson Stadium.

I bought a ticket for $26, which was for a nice seat in the middle of the pitch at the second ring of the large stadium (capacity of 32.000). Official attendance on this hot (88F/31C) and sweaty Saturday night was 13.486. Although the stadium is surrounded by mostly black neighborhoods, the audience was roughly 2/3 white and 1/3 Hispanic. The vast majority of spectators were wearing orange Dynamo gear.

Dynamo Houston has two groups of ultras, situated at different sides behind the goal. On the eastern end is the Zona Este, which beats the drums and plays their trumpets all game long.

On the western end is the Texian Army, which has no trumpets, but beats its drums also all game long. As far as I could make out, both groups consist mostly of Hispanic fans, which explains the tropical drums.

All in all, there was a real football atmosphere, which most people truly engaged in the game. Unfortunately, it was not a good game. The first decent attack was only in the 24th minute, when Dynamo missed narrowly in front of an empty goal. Almost ten minutes later the hosts launched a weak shot at the goalie. In the 35th minute the Crew had their first chance; from 5 meter they shot over the goal.

Although Columbus Crew leads the Eastern Conference of the MLS, they hardly made an effort to win this game. They played very defensively and negatively, leaving the ball and play to Dynamo. The best thing the Crew showed was a beautiful half-volley just over the goal. Hence, a disappointing 0-0 half time score.

As this was “Military Appreciation Night”, the half time was cramped with a broad variety of activities in appreciation of soldiers. It also featured a live weather update from the local tv and a quick dance from the Dynamo Girls, the team’s cheerleaders. In hindsight, half time was the most exciting part of the evening.

The second half continued where the first half had ended: with slow and bad football. Columbus still kept 4-5 players behind the ball at all times, even against one Dynamo striker, while Houston didn’t have the quality to create many chances (they had lost the previous six league games!). Despite some small semi-chances, the game ended 0-0.

All in all, this was an extremely disappointing game. The quality of play was overall poor and this wasn’t simply because of the heat. That said, I really liked the old, almost medieval Robertson Stadium, and the atmosphere was among the best I have experienced in the US. In other words, Houston Dynamo might not have the best team, they do have a very solid support base!

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