Tag Archives: Leslie Chairez

Houston Dynamo – Big Changes, Big Comebacks, and the Big Picture

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

 Since the Houston Dynamo played the Colorado Rapids at home last week, I have written, rewritten, scrapped, and started over on this article more times than I can remember.

It has been a whirlwind week, and I’ve struggled with how to communicate my ideas on the match as well as the state of the club. I’ve gathered some thoughts, so I’ll get this article written before something else monumental happens! 

Just four days before the Rapids came to Houston, the Dynamo front office announced that the club had parted ways with Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera. Cabrera’s time with the club was definitely Dickensian – both the best and worst of times.

While we brought home our first US Open Cup in 2018 and started the 2019 season with the best early showing in the club’s history, struggles also permeated his tenure with the failure to make the playoffs while on that Open Cup run and a steep drop in performance after the banner 2019 start. In short, Cabrera’s willingness to gamble in high stakes moments sometimes paid off, but his unwillingness to fold a losing hand cost the club – often more than they could afford. 

The Dynamo named David Arnaud as interim coach – a familiar face from the assistant coaching staff since 2017. Arnaud is no stranger to MLS as he just transitioned from player to coaching staff with D.C. United in 2016. He came back home to Texas the following year to join the Dynamo staff. As I said on Twitter this week:

With just a couple of days of training together, Arnaud led Houston against Colorado at home on Saturday. After struggling defensively in the first half and passing two easy goals to the Rapids, the Dynamo came back in the second half and tied it up, finishing the match 2-2.

While the team only earned a point, it was an important one. Houston showing fans they can regroup at the half, update tactics, and return with a different level of play is something that has been lacking. While the organization still has a lot of making up to do with fans, the results of the first match in this new era added more hope than fear to the relationship. 

With the playoff line rising further out of reach for the Dynamo, fans begin to determine their place with the club at this point in the season. It’s easy to love a team that wins more than they lose and cities love to tout hardware brought home by their teams. But fans that love their teams regardless of their results and cities that support clubs beyond their ability to win trophies are what make real stories.

Just ahead of their Rivalry Week match up in Frisco against FC Dallas, the Houston Dynamo took the time to meet with their season ticket holders at a private event on Wednesday.

My stepson plays skiball with Adam Lundkvist, I get a photo with some of my guys, and get a selfie with Interim Head Coach David Arnaud.

Meeting players, coaches, and staff outside of the stadium is awesome. Maybe it’s the soccer mom that exists at my core, but I love these guys and I appreciate their efforts. And my Dynamo staff keep the place running so that I can continue to support week in and week out. I take that support on the road to FC Dallas this Sunday as we fight to return El Capitan home

Featured image:  @lesliecphotos

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Chicago’s Fire Too Hot for Houston at Home

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

FT: HOU v CHI 0-1

When going up against an opponent with such a visual name as the Chicago Fire, I cannot help but fall prey to the metaphorical title.

The reality was, however, that the Houston Dynamo didn’t struggle with Chicago’s heat as much as with the brimstone brought by their own demons – the failure to convert chances into goals and their inability to shake off officiating disagreements. 

The collective Dynamo ego needed a solid win against Chicago last Saturday night to shake off the previous week’s loss on their home pitch, and Houston fans came with high expectations with the return of Alberth Elis to the starting eleven. The playmaker’s return, however, was simply not enough to overcome the darkness of a growing number of scoreless minutes at home.

Ultimately, a defensive error off of a Fire set piece late in the first half was the goal that lost Houston their points at home with a 1-0 defeat. A wild mess of ricochets in the box at the hour mark almost doubled the loss, but the one hour minute was the only time that Lady Luck wore orange in BBVA Stadium that night. 

It’s not an easy time to be a Houston Dynamo fan. Not only are our playoff chances slipping away, but it seems that the League’s Disciplinary committee, PROreferees, and the MLS community as a whole are rallying against us.

Even among fans, the schism between supporters groups and other fans is growing as seating changes for the 2020 season have pitted fans against one another. Additionally, the blame game continues to recruit fans to various camps looking for the reason behind the Dynamo season’s decline. 

And while many fans left the stadium on Saturday night disappointed and pondering their own blame stance, I left with a renewed vision of the real importance of soccer in our community. 

After Saturday night’s regular MLS match, the League’s Unified teams had an opportunity to play in front of fans at BBVA. The Unified teams are the result of a partnership between the League’s social responsibility platform, ESPN, and the Special Olympics. They provide an opportunity for athletes with intellectual disabilities, as well as advocates, to participate in the beautiful game in conjunction with their first team counterparts.

Both the Dynamo and Fire Unified teams put forth a great effort and ended their Saturday night match with a 1-1 draw. The fans in attendance were supportive, interactive, and absolutely the epitome of what I love to see among fans at any match. 

The rest of the weekend’s non-sports news has left me largely gutted, and that is undoubtedly the reason behind the lateness of this report. Supporting soccer, attending matches, and cheering on your team should be a reprieve from some of the more painful realities in the world – it absolutely shouldn’t be one more plight to add to the pile. The joy, the camaraderie, and the acceptance inherent in the Unified teams’ efforts is a flagship for where my own focus on the beautiful match should lie. 

I’m making an effort in the coming weeks to focus on the positive, to find hope in possibilities, and as always to support my team without fail. Being a fan is one of the best parts of my week, and I’m not going to be dragged down to the depths arguing over results, regrets, or reactions. I am Forever Orange. And I look forward to sharing more news about my team after the Dynamo face NYCFC on Thursday and Philadelphia on Sunday. 

Featured image:  Leslie Chairez 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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