Houston we have a Dynamo problem

Dynamo Sporting KC
Chicken wing tussle: Houston Dynamo defender Sofi Sarkodie (8) battles it out with Sporting KC striker Soony Saad (22) (photo: Troy Taormina-USA Today sports)

Will America’s left back solve the dynamism deficit at the BBVA Compass Stadium? The Kenna’s MLS correspondent the Team Panda Rules OK manager hopes so. 

WHEN World Cup veteran DaMarcus Beasley first lines up in the orange shirt of the Houston Dynamo, he may well wonder why all the energy appears to be being spent off the pitch.

Because if my visit to watch La Naranja is anything to go by, it’s only the fans who are giving the Texas team any spark.

The Dynamo were simply awful in their 2-0 home defeat to Sporting Kansas City – even allowing for the absence of midfield general Brad Davis, who was Brazil-bound with Jurgen et al at the time.

But as bad as the Orange Crush were, their fans were terrific throughout – creating an atmosphere in sharp contrast to the one I found on my previous sojourn to Chicago Fire.

In all there were 18,396 Forever Orange fanatics pumped into the downtown stadium, which is just a short walk from the thoroughly recommended Flying Saucer and El Big Bad bars.

There were drums. A tangerine-faced version of Darth Maul. And at least a hundred Hispanic diehards blissfully unaware that their chants fitted perfectly with the melody of Karma Chameleon.

Well, this Boy George was impressed – and not just because the Dos Equis was flowing for a mere $10 a pop.

The majority of the noise – and it was constant – came from 200-300 standing fans behind one of the goals.

They didn’t let up for a second following the national anthem, and a bizarre pre-match video which saw Dynamo winger Andrew Driver boot a box of cereal and then a Battlefield Earth DVD into the air.

Driver, and his fellow Englishman Giles Barnes, would struggle to displace the chairman from his occasional appearance at Catford Power League on this showing (ouch! – the chairman).

Like the rest of the Dynamo, they were limp as could be, despite the advantage of the early sending off of Kansas midfielder, Antonio Dovale – an event which resulted in one orange-clad fan removing an actual red card from his pocket and waving it at the pitch.

From their rivals, only Seth Sinovic caught the eye – forever foraging down the left in the very realistic hope of finding more erratic Dynamo defending.

The experience of Beasley, who joined this week with Honduran midfielder Luis Garrido, will surely pay dividends both on and off the pitch.

I say off the pitch because the Texans have a very impressive club shop, with prices far more reasonable than their Windy City equivalents.

One expects a few Beasley shirts will be sold over the coming weeks. On this evidence, there aren’t many other names worth choosing from.

++You can read more about the Houston Dynamo on their website.

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Panda’s guide to Chicago Fire

Mike Magee
“Tragi-comic figure”: Fire striker Mike Magee (photo courtesy of Chicago Fire Soccer Club)

In a first ever for the Kenna, this post was guest written by the manager of Team Panda Rules OK, who makes his debut this season. The manager’s account of visiting an MLS game on the weekend makes observations on the football viewing experience across the pond.

THE PANDA’S commitment to world and Jeff Kenna domination occasionally takes him to far-flung cities and underground sporting venues.

This weekend it was the Toyota Park Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois, to witness Chicago Fire take on New England Revolution.

Having secured a ticket for $35 through the Chicago Fire website, I arrived parched at the stadium via the Windy City’s CTA railroad, one of several Chicago locations you may have seen in The Dark Knight.

The stadium itself was small, in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by a car park full of picnicking and barbecuing families – but unfortunately not a single drinking hole within camel’s distance.

Luckily my $35 ticket included admission to the Miller Lite Party Deck – a flat platform behind one of the goals where you are given a wristband entitling you to two free beers, a bucket of popcorn and a pitifully small hotdog.

Having sated my thirst with Miller Genuine Draft (a throwback to my youth), and witnessed a firework-accompanied murdering of the Star Spangled Banner, I watched the game begin with the lack of “bite” that can only come from a stadium full of American families and devoid of opposition fans.

Two intoxicated Fire fans who attempted to get the ambiance enlivened by shouting abuse at the opposition goalie from approximately 10 metres behind him (“Shuttleworth – you suck”) were swiftly ejected, presumably by one of the ball girls.

They provided the solitary atmosphere of the game, which fell flat despite its significance in the Eastern Conference, the five goals which it contained, and the fact you are allowed to stand to watch the match.

The football itself was technically good, played on the floor, at a semi-pace and without fear that a tackle might be made.

Largely anonymous was the Fire’s big player Mike Magee, a sort of tragi-comic figure who managed to win the man-of-the-match award despite ducking out of every header like a seal scared of the beach ball.

You can pick up a shirt with his name and number on for $149 at the club shop, which is far too much when you consider he is sh1t and the Miller is going for $7.50, although the red shirt is smart.

You can see Magee in action – complete with American Soccer-ball commentary – below.

An alternative version of events can be found on ESPN.


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