Wednesday, November 28, 2007

FINALLY . . . Some normalcy!

Last night I met up with an alumnus from my college fraternity who is a lawyer here in Houston for the Indiana-Georgia Tech basketball game. The event was nothing spectacular or anything extraordiary but it was nice to talk with someone who had a similar background and some knowledge about Hoosier Hoops. We ate some wings and put back a few beers at the BW3's in Houston's Midtown. Some of the guy's friends showed up and it was nice to meet a couple more professionals in the city. The night went by fast after Indiana beat G-Tech and Duke easily rolled over Wisconsin. One of the guys is a die-hard soccer fan. I could tell these guys were lawyers as they constructed arguements both for and against a college football tournament. I was out of my league but it was fun nonetheless. Hopefully I'll meet up with these guys again.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving Re-cap

This was my first Thanksgiving away from I had done for 21 years before. My financial situation did not allow me to make it back to Southern Indiana from South Texas. My friend Jason invited me to join him, his girl friend, and girl friend's mother for dinner at his home in Mobile, Alabama. Since I did not have other plans, I accepted. I left Houston for Mobile Wednesday afternoon. The office was dead and their wasn't much reason to stick around. I drive was going very easily until just past Lafayette, Louisiana where an entire 70 mile chunk of I-10 had been shut down both eastbound and westbound lanes. All of the traffic was detoured to a back-road state highway that definitely not equipped for the extra Thanksgiving Weekend travelers. Needless to say my roadrage was in full bloom. I finally made the drive in just under 8.5 hours.

Jason's girlfriend did a fabulous job of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. It tasted no different than my grandmother's cooking. Despite the great tasting food, the overall atmosphere just wasn't the same without my relatives and all of their characteristics. Saturday, Jason and I hit the rock-climbing gym. I'm incredibly out of shape on the rocks and Jason is just plain out of shape. If I wasn't achored in, belaying my friends could have been a safety issue. The holiday was a nice break from the hectic Dynamo front office that had been my world for the past few weeks during what I now call MLS Cup fever, but needless to say it was a reminder of the homesickness I still get from time to time as I take on the challenges of a new life and new city all on my own.

Monday, November 26, 2007

MLS Champions!

This entry is way overdue, but should not be forgotten.

As a full-time employee of the Houston Dynamo I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel with the team to Washington DC for the MLS Cup final against NE Revolution. And what a ride it was.

We arrived in DC late morning Friday, so after a bite to eat my friends and I headed out on the metro rail for L'Enfant Plaza and the National Mall to see all the sights and monunments. DC is a very beautiful city that was definitely planned out in advance before anything was built. After walking all over the place in fairly cold temperatures, we had a bite to eat over by the Marine Barracks were the top general of the Marine Corps lives. The beer and food for some reason tasted alot better in our nation's capital.

On Saturday was a day of old friendships. I met up with long-time Scouting friend Jeff O'Brien for lunch and a few museums. That night at the MLS Cup pregame party I met with fellow IU soccer hooligan Zach Zayner. Seeing some familiar faces and talking about some common ground was a nice added bonus to already incredible weekend.

Sunday started early. The diehard Dynamo supporters including myself and office friends wanted quality tailgate time before kick-off. Waiting for the metro was a scene from London, England. We were a group of dedicated soccer supporters all decked out in our club's colors catching the underground to the stadium chanting and singing the whole way. Some NE Rev's supporters were on the train as well and exchanged a few looks along the way. The weather on gameday was perfect: sunny and in the low 60's. A large contingent of Texian Army and El Batallon made the trip from Houston. We mingled in the parking lot mixing drinks and scavaging for beer.

For the most part, the game was a blur. I can't remember details or specifics, and it wasn't because I was too drunk. All I know is that we were down a goal going into halftime and that we came back to win 2-1. We had an official victory celebration party at a three story sports bars a few blocks from our hotel. It was wild. So wild that I almost missed the bus to catch our plane home the next morning.

The following Tuesday, City Hall hosted a Victory Rally for us. Whenever a city council member or local government official was introduced, our fans kept chanting "WHERE'S OUR STADIUM?"

A good question indeed ...

Monday, November 12, 2007

MLS Cup Fever!

Houston Dynamo is back in the MLS Cup Championship versus New England Revolution. This is an exact repeat of last year's matchup, but the road to DC was anything but pretty.

Houston was already down a goal in the aggregate scoring system playing host to FC Dallas on Friday November 2. When Dallas struck first scoring the first goal, the outlook was not good. Late game heroics by the Dynamo sent the game into overtime and two more goals scored in overtime sealed Dynamo's advancement to the Western Conference Championship. Now all we could was wait for the result of the Kansas City-Chivas USA game to see where the game would be played. KC dug in and held their 1-0 lead from the first leg. Houston would host the Wizards in the WCF.

The arrived in the office on Monday November 5 to sound of ringing phones. Those phones did not stop ringing all week long. To make things interesting, our phone system crashed because of the flood of incoming calls. The week was grueling with alot of extra hours in the office. Before we knew it, it was game-day.

I was working the will-call tent when some fans asked us if they could buy tickets here. I pointed them in the direction of the ticket window, but they said it was closed. That could mean only one thing: there were no more tickets to sell. We had officially sold-out Robertson Stadium.

I was confident that if Dynamo scored first we would win the game. Our team was firing on all cinders after the come from behind win over Dallas. But even after Nate Jaqua's gem of a header into the net from a corner, the Dynamo attack did not stop. They took no chances. They wanted to dominate KC. Houston scored again in the second half, but still continued to dominate every aspect of the game.

When the final whistle blew, I was relatively calm where as most of my coworkers were estatic, but as I said earlier I knew if we scored first we would win. With 30,972 people in attendance, it was fate to return to MLS Cup. As I stood on the field watching the sea of Orange around me go all out crazy for their team, I could do nothing but smile. I thought about where I was just a short time ago, unpacking from college in my parents basement. I had no job, no leads, nothing. How here I am getting ready to travel to our nation's capital for the MLS Cup championship game.