Tag Archives: Darbi Lockridge

The Houston Dynamo Take Blood, Sweat, and Points At Home

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Top photo: MLSFemale photographer Leslie Chairez perfectly captures the moment before Alberth Elis (foreground) places the ball at Memo Rodriguez’s feet for a goal.

This weekend, the Houston Dynamo hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps, their second Canadian opponent in as many MLS pairings.

Image: Leslie Chairez // mlsfemale

Coming off a 1-0 loss in Mexico that took them out of the CONCACAF Champions League, the men in orange were surprisingly emboldened. Their showing at Estadio Universitario against Tigres was an improved effort to their first leg at home, and they showed a crowd of over 41,000 Tigres fans an impressive level of play. But Saturday, ready to focus squarely on the MLS competition (until Lamar Hunt kicks off in May), the Dynamo set their sights on the Whitecaps.

One of the most notable moments of the match came late in the 76th minute as a no-fault collision in the Whitecaps’ box led to Houston’s Mauro Manotas and Vancouver’s Andy Rose being treated for head injuries. Manotas received gauze and a head wrap, while Rose seemed to get the worst of it. He bled profusely and left the match under concussion protocol, having to be assisted off of the pitch.

The Whitecaps had used their last substitution moments before the collision and were forced to finish the match down a man. At the end of the match, as the coaches met briefly, the concern in Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera’s face was clear, and I’m sure that he was expressing hope for a full recovery for Rose.

Image: Leslie Chairez // mlsfemale

While the mid-60s temperatures bordered on cool for Houstonians, the weather is always a factor in these early matches when snow-accustomed teams migrate south to begin the MLS season each spring. There is simply no way for teams from the north to be fully prepared for the Houston environment. In addition to the heat, Houston’s annual spring pollen has recently draped the city in a layer of yellow, and allergy-related ailments are tough to push through.

The match was chilly early on as the cloud cover kept the sun at bay. By the half, most fans had shed their extra layers as the sun came out and gave the day a warmer summer feel. The rising heat index led to increasingly chippy play, lots of late cards, and other uncalled fouls for both sides.

Pollen on the lake and pollen footprints on the deck illustrate the extent to which the Houston area is blanketed with allergens this time of year. – Photos by Darbi Lockridge, from her back porch.

Cabrera’s lineup replaced one of his traditional three forward attackers with midfielder Memo Rodriguez, which I believe to be the key to the Dynamo’s continued offensive magic. Forward Alberth Elis scored his first goal of the season off a penalty and was instrumental with assists in the other two goals scored by Rodriguez. Memo’s brace held the Dynamo up to a 3-2 victory against the Whitecaps.

Their seven-point start to the 2019 season is the best on record for this team and could hearken the coming of a new dominance in the Western Conference for the Dynamo, which have often held an underdog status. After playing seven matches in under a month, the Dynamo and the fans are eager to recuperate through the break before meeting the Colorado Rapids in our first away match on March 30.

Featured image: Leslie Chairez // mlsfemale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

A Tale of Two Competitions

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Throughout 2018, the Houston Dynamo battled scheduling and defensive injuries through both MLS and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup competitions, shining a light on the lack of depth in the squad. In the end, the team failed to qualify for the MLS playoffs, but brought home the Lamar Hunt Trophy.

General manager, Matt Jordan, spent most of the off-season recruiting players that would improve depth, and the start of 2019 is putting his work to early tests. Juggling two competitions again – the CONCACAF Champions League as well as the MLS regular season – the Dynamo have started their 2019 with a grueling schedule, playing five games so far.

By the middle of March, the team and their fans will have pushed through seven matches over twenty six days – one match every three to four days.

The Dynamo’s second MLS match – against the Montreal Impact – on Saturday afternoon brought some of the biggest lineup changes from head coach, Wilmer Cabrera, to date. His usual switches are in the midfield and defensive lineups, always preferring to flank center forward Mauro Manotas with Honduran forwards Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto.

While he has occasionally removed one or the other, this week’s lineup surprised fans with Elis and Quioto starting on the bench, replaced by attacking midfielders Marlon Hairston and Memo Rodriguez. This is a big switch in strategy for Cabrera that shows the increased levels of confidence in the shooting of Manotas, who is quickly climbing the ladder of all-time Dynamo goal scorers.

Photo by Leslie Chairez, Official Houston Dynamo Photographer for MLSFemale

The recipe of two true midfielders further up the pitch may beat the backline shake ups as the answer to the Dynamo’s defensive lapses, as they triumphed over the Montreal Impact 2-1. The Impact scored in the 34th minute and were quickly answered by a Memo Rodriguez goal at 36’.

The match held even through a long stretch, though the Dynamo offense dominated most of the match. Cabrera replaced the midfielders up front around the one hour mark, bringing in his Honduran forward team. The switch paid off, as Quioto snuck a pass to Manotas inside the box in the 89th minute for the game-winner.

Despite the Impact scoring first, the feeling of the match and the statistics tell a story of an offensive victory for the men in orange. The Dynamo doubled the Impact’s offensive stats in shots and corners (14:7 and 6:3, respectively) and absolutely owned the on-target shots – Montreal’s goal being their only on-target shot to the Dynamo’s six.

The Houston Dynamo must take the confidence won in this MLS match to the CCL this week, as they face the huge task of beating the Tigres by three goals in Mexico to move on. They turn quickly from an undefeated MLS squad to an underdog away team in a matter of moments so both players and staff will need to carry Saturday’s lessons and confidence into Universitario Stadium on Tuesday night.

And just as fast, win or lose, they switch focus again to face the Vancouver Whitecaps at home the following Saturday.

Featured image: Leslie Chairez // mlsfemale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Houston DynamOpening Day!

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Since my family’s first MLS Opening Day, we have latched on to the termDynamOpening Day” for this annual holiday. For us, it’s bigger than Christmas and certainly comes with all of the stress, anticipation, spending and celebrating of that occasion.

It seems that 2019 is a year of true awakening for the Houston Dynamo community. The off-season change in management has sparked new and exciting action in many different areas of the club, the fan base and the overall experience. We have seen more updates to the stadium experience than in years past. One of the supporters groups, El Batallon, released an album of their chants in order to help fans learn the songs and sing along.

I joined MLSFemale due to my own interest in promoting the club to a wider audience, which brings you this article today! I feel like our family holiday is also finding a wider audience, and I can’t wait to watch it grow in popularity around my community.

While I cannot say that #DynamOpeningDay didn’t come with a share of disappointments, there is simply nothing like the feeling that I have when I get to BBVA Compass Stadium for the first match of the MLS season. Even the weather respected the importance of the day when an unseasonably long and heavy cloud cover opened, bringing more sunshine than I expected to see over our tailgate.

One of my favorite parts of the supporters section experience is lifting the large flag after each goal. You can see the view from the rest of the stadium in my Twitter header…but the best view is from beneath, in my opinion.

Our play against Real Salt Lake was definitely rough, with fouls flying from both ends. When an early barrage of yellow cards went to RSL, I thought that we might have an uncharacteristically friendly referee. Later calls, including a second yellow card to Matias Vera, left us with the familiar suspicion that the Dynamo fight a pair of opponents on the pitch. Fans were most upset by the Boniek Garcia goal called offside in minute 76—all ticket holders in the stadium could have gone home with a $40 gift card from 76 gas stations had the call gone the other way.

We did not go home empty-handed, however. The Dynamo came back from a deficit to finish the match tied at 1-1, so we take a point into the rest of the season.

#MLSIsBack, but our eyes turn again to the CONCACAF Champions League where we face competition favorite Tigres UANL on Tuesday, March 5. We will tackle MLS again when we face the Montreal Impact a few short days later on March 9.

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

For the Houston Dynamo, It’s Time

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

The off-season for the Houston Dynamo seemed short, especially for a team that didn’t make the MLS playoffs. In November, the Dynamo hired a new President of Business Operations, John Walker. He came in ready to listen to fans and made both bold and genuine gestures to prove that he truly wanted to hear from us.

However, his commitment to this process took time. The organizational changes seemed to push back a lot of the typical off-season fluff that carries us through the fallow time. Rumors of kit sponsors, signings and other potential moves sat pending for days and weeks. As off-season became pre-season, at least one fan assumed they missed the kit launch and hit up the team store for a new jersey—only to be informed that it hadn’t yet been unveiled.

For the team, our pre-season was wrought with inconsistencies—wins, losses, red cards, and Coach Wilmer Cabrera’s continuing habit of changing lineups and even player positions for every match. We have a great mix of veteran and young players with experience all over the globe, but fans are never sure who will turn up or where.

But our first test came this week when the Houston Dynamo met Guastatoya in Guatemala for the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL). Our starters were the token Cabrera expected surprise. Still, as a group of nearly 50 supporters met in a bar across the street from our stadium, we were primed for the match, ready for anything, and hungry for victory.

What came next was every soccer fan’s dream. My family has an often-repeated line that we found on Twitter last year. In response to a tweet by Andrew Wiebe about fouls against MLS teams in last year’s CCL, @andrewsorg responded, “Do you even #CONCACAF, bro?” This has become our shorthand in rough matches to remind us that the beautiful game comes along with grit and guts, that fouls happen, and that the real match comes when the teams want a victory and fight hard for it.

And, yes, we CONCACAFed. We fought hard, and our defense was relentless, never backing down from Guastatoya’s advances. Our offense found a fluidity that challenged past the Guatemalans’ defense. The teams were scoreless through the 80th minute, and Dynamo fans held their collective breath.

In the 2018 MLS season, we repeatedly lost matches in the final 10 minutes when our defense failed to hold. The 2019 season hints at an end to that curse, however, as we earned a corner just past the 80 minute mark. Romell Quioto sent a high ball to the top of the box that our veteran captain, DaMarcus Beasley, read perfectly. With his weaker right foot, Beasley loosed an absolute rocket through a field of players, sinking a goal.

The Dynamo held on to their 1-0 lead through those last moments, so we meet Guastatoya at home next week with one away goal and a win secured.

And that new orange kit will be unveiled just in time.

Featured image: Sean Ringrose, with permission.

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Houston’s heating up

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

As someone who loves hot weather as only a happy-to-be-here Houston transplant can, February begins the best part of my year. Houston is almost done with our blessedly short winter season, and my family and I have just shivered through our first spring youth soccer tournament.

The Houston Dynamo’s season is coming at us faster and bigger than those in the recent past, as our Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Championship means that our MLS season is preceded by two CONCACAF Champions league matches before DynamOpening Day even comes along.  

For me, this means lots of excitement and even more work. I’m the team manager for my stepson’s U13/U14 soccer team and am on the leadership team of Houston’s Independent Supporters Council-recognized supporters group, the Texian Army. In the last month, I’ve collected spring team fees and used youth equipment. I’ve had pre-season meetings about tailgate trailers, sponsorships, and tifo. Throughout the pre-season, I’ve spent hours stalking through the new signings’ social media accounts to get a feel for the soul of the new season’s team. 

Despite all of the soccer already on my calendar, my sage husband ran across the MLSFemale call for a Houston Dynamo writer and knew that he should share that information with me. I have always loved to write and never shy away from sharing my opinions on soccer or any other subject. I sent an email, took the next steps, and that’s the short story on how my words have gotten on this screen in front of you today.

The longer story of my soccer fandom includes a misspent youth, a Portuguese roommate, and the 2002 FIFA World Cup. It also involves my family’s efforts to share that passion and continue to find new ways to love and support the beautiful game. 

Very soon the MLS season and the Houston weather will rocket from mild days to muggy nights. My family and friends will gather in that heat to stand, sing, and support our team through every match. We will set up our sections, put out our flags, clean it all up, and do it again. We’ll match the beat of the supporters’ drums with our supporters’ hearts and give it all we have for each 90 minutes that our team gives for us.

And then I’ll be back here in front of my PC to share my insights and opinions soon after. I’m truly looking forward to sharing my thoughts here. The season is starting soon and the weather is turning warm. Grab your sunglasses and the SPF50, friends – Houston’s heating up!  

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale