Houston Dynamo Profile
|Major Honours||MLS Cup (2), US Open Cup (1)|
The Texan MLS club are looking to revive early glory days with Oscar De La Hoya and James Harden part of their ownership team.
Houston Dynamo FC were announced as a new MLS team in 2005, with the San Jose Earthquakes franchise moving to Texas. They were initially owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group. Houston hosted a welcome party on December 16 and announced that the team would play at the University of Houston's Robertson Stadium.
The Dynamo name was unveiled on March 7, 2006, less than a month before their first game. The name was about Houston's energy-based industrial economy and a nod to a former Houston soccer team in the USL. The word Dynamo is also well-used throughout international soccer and the team defines it as "someone who never fatigues or gives up".
The team colours are orange, white and light blue. The light blue, or 'Space City' blue, is on the city flag and was previously used by the NFL's Houston Oilers. The original crest was black and orange with a soccer ball between the words Houston and Dynamo, with a star below the team name too. The team rebranded before the 2020 season and the new logo is a hexagonal shape with six sides representing Houston's six wards. There is an interlocking H.D. above the team name with a lightning bolt under the name.
The team primarily played at Robertson Stadium on the campus of the University of Houston from 2006 to 2011. They moved into BBVA Stadium, a 22,000-seater soccer-specific arena, in 2012. The venue is in downtown Houston, in the same area as the NBA's Toyota Center and MLB's Minute Maid Park.
Originally owned by AEG, the Dynamo's current majority owner is Mexican Gabriel Brener. Boxing superstar Oscar De La Hoya and NBA superstar James Harden are among the minority owners.
The team had initial MLS success with two titles right out of the gate and have since added two MLS Cup runners-up placings. They also boast a US Open Cup on their resume.
Big-name players the Dynamo have rostered include Chris Wondolowski, Dwayne De Rosario, DaMarcus Beasley, Stuart Holden, Geoff Cameron, Brian Ching, Brad Davis and Pat Onstad.
The Dynamo arrive and win it all
San Jose moved to Houston with all their players and coaches, but stats and records remained with San Jose. Manager Dominic Kinnear had started with San Jose in 2004 and the Earthquakes moved to Houston having won the 2005 MLS Supporters' Shield. The team included Chris Wondolowski, Brad Davis, Brian Ching, Dwayne De Rosario, Ricardo Clark, Wade Barrett, Stuart Holden, Eddie Robinson and Pat Onstad.
Their first game in Houston drew 25,462 fans for a 5-2 win over Colorado Rapids as Ching scored four goals, which is still a franchise record for a single game. From May 27 to July 22, they went 10 straight unbeaten and they also didn't lose over the final six games of the regular season. They finished second in the Western Conference as Ching and De Rosario each scored 11 goals. In the first round of the play-offs, they beat Chivas USA 3-2 on aggregate, as Ching scored twice. In the Western Conference finals, Paul Dalglish scored twice in a 3-1 win over Colorado Rapids. Houston played the MLS Cup final a couple of hours from home in Dallas and the game was tied 0-0 after 90 minutes. New England scored in the 113th minute, but Ching equalised a minute later. The first ever MLS Cup final to be decided by penalty kicks was won by Houston 4-3 as Onstad made the game-winning save.
The Dynamo started the 2007 season in the CONCACAF Champions Cup and beat Puntarenas in the quarter-finals before listing to Pachuca in the semi-finals. During the summer, they played in the North American SuperLiga and after making it out of the group stage, they again lost to Pachuca in the semi-finals.
Houston got off to a slow start in MLS play but won eight games during an 11-match unbeaten stretch before the All-Star break. They drew the final game of the regular season 0-0 to Chivas USA, thus finishing a point behind Chivas in the West. Houston lost to rivals FC Dallas 1-0 in their play-off opener but won the second leg 4-1 with two goals from Ching and strikes from Holden and Davis. In the Western Conference finals, they beat Kansas City 2-0 and again faced New England in the MLS Cup final. Houston retained their title with a 2-1 win as De Rosario netted the winner in the 74th minute.
The end of the 2007 season also saw the Dynamo sell 50% of the team to Brener International Group and Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions. In 2008, the Dynamo finished second in the Pan-Pacific Championship in Hawaii with a win over Sydney FC and a loss to Gamba Osaka. They lost in the CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-finals to Deportivo Saprissa 3-0 on aggregate. Back in MLS, Houston won the Western Conference regular season with 13 wins but lost in the Conference semi-finals to New York Red Bulls 4-1 on aggregate.
In 2009, Kinnear's side were eliminated from the Champions League in the quarter-finals and went on an 11-game unbeaten streak in MLS. They reached the semi-finals of the US Open Cup before losing to Seattle in extra time. They got revenge on Seattle with a 1-0 win in the MLS Cup play-offs after finishing tied for first in the West but taking the No. 2 seed. In the Western Conference final, they lost to LA Galaxy 2-0.
Before the 2010 season, the Dynamo sold Ricardo Clark to Germany's Eintracht Frankfurt and Holden went to play in England's Premier League for Bolton Wanderers. Ching and Cameron both missed large chunks of the season with injuries, and Houston won just nine games in the regular season. As a result, they missed the play-offs for the first time since moving to Texas.
Onstad retired, the team drafted Will Bruin, and Houston switched to the Eastern Conference for the 2011 season. They won 12 games as Davis led the league with 16 assists. With a second-place finish, the Dynamo returned to the play-offs and beat Philadelphia in the first series. In the Eastern Conference final, they beat Kansas City 2-0 with goals from Andre Hainault and Carlo Costly. In the MLS Cup final, Houston lost to LA Galaxy 1-0 thanks to a 72nd-minute goal from Landon Donovan.
Houston moved into BBVA Stadium in 2012 after playing seven straight away games to start the season. The first game at their new home was on May 12 - a win over D.C. United in front of 22,039 fans. Houston didn't lose at home all season, picking up 11 wins and six draws. Cameron moved to Stoke City in England during mid-season after they had added Designated Player Oscar Boniek Garcia. Dynamo had a seven-game unbeaten streak from July 3 to August 3. Bruin led the team with 12 goals over the campaign. Houston made the play-offs as a wild card and beat Chicago Fire 2-1 in the first round as Bruin scored twice. In the Conference semi-finals, they upset No. 1 seed Sporting Kansas City 2-1 on aggregate as Bruin and Adam Moffat scored. In the Conference finals, they beat D.C. United 3-1 in the first leg before drawing 1-1 in the second leg and advancing. The Galaxy were again waiting in the MLS Cup final and Houston led 1-0 at half time through a goal by Calen Carr. However, he tore his ACL in the 59th minute and the Galaxy scored three goals in the final 30 minutes to win 3-1.
The 2013 season saw Houston's 36-game home unbeaten streak end on May 12 with a 1-0 loss against Kansas City. The season ended with Houston as the No. 4 seed in the East and they beat Montreal 3-0 in the first round as Bruin scored twice. They then beat New York Red Bulls with a stoppage-time goal from Omar Cummings in the second leg to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Houston drew the first leg at home and lost in Kansas City 2-1 to end their season.
Houston brought in USMNT star DaMarcus Beasley in the middle of the 2014 season, but they finished eighth in the East and missed the play-offs. Kinnear left after the campaign, and Houston moved back to the Western Conference.
The Dynamo post-Kinnear
Owen Coyle took over for the 2015 season and Houston had one of their worst seasons ever on the field. They finished 15th overall, eighth in the West, and missed the play-offs. After the season, Brener bought out AEG's 50% ownership in the team and took over as majority owner.
After a slow start to the 2016 season, the Dynamo parted ways with Coyle on May 25, with former captain Wade Barrett finishing the season as interim manager. They still drew 20,000 fans per game but slipped to last place in the West and missed the play-offs for a third straight season with just 34 points.
Wilmer Cabrera was hired as manager for the 2017 season and Houston added forward Romell Quioto while trading Bruin to Seattle. They also added Designated Player Alberth Elis on loan from Monterrey and in July, they introduced midfielder Tomas Martinez from Braga. With 13 wins, they finished fourth in the West and returned to the play-offs for the first time since 2013. Elis scored the only goal in a 1-0 extra-time win over Sporting Kansas City in the knockout round and Houston eliminated Portland Timbers 2-1 on aggregate in the West semis. In the Western Conference final, their season ended without a goal as the Seattle Sounders beat Houston 5-0 on aggregate.
Elis was bought off loan before the 2018 season, but the Dynamo missed the play-offs with a ninth-place finish in the West. The highlight of the season came in the US Open Cup. Houston beat NTX Rayados 5-0 in the fourth round and dispatched Minnesota United FC 1-0 in the last 16. Quioto and Mauro Manotas scored twice in a 4-2 quarter-final win over SKC and Houston beat LAFC on penalty kicks in the semi-finals. In the US Open Cup final, which was played at home, Manotas scored twice as Houston lifted the trophy with a 3-0 win over Philadelphia Union.
Houston missed the MLS play-offs again in 2019 and Cabrera was let go on August 13 after four straight losses and a run of 10 defeats in 12 games. Davy Arnaud was named interim manager to finish the season. Beasley, who served as captain, retired at the end of the campaign.
Tab Ramos comes in
Tab Ramos, who played 81 games for the USMNT from 1988 to 2000 and spent seven seasons in MLS, was hired as Dynamo manager on October 25, 2019. He managed the US U-20 team from 2011 to 2019 and served as a USMNT assistant from 2014 to 2016.
Houston traded for Darwin Quintero from Minnesota United and sent goalie Joe Willis to Nashville for defender Zarek Valentin. They added Croatian goalie Marko Maric from Hoffenheim and traded Quioto to Montreal for defender Victor Cabrera.
The 2020 season was interrupted by COVID-19 after two games and resumed at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando in July. In a group with the Los Angeles teams and eventual winners Portland, Houston drew twice and lost once. Elis was sold to Boavista at the end of September and Houston ended the month with a five-match winless streak in MLS. They won just one of their final 14 games and missed the play-offs, finishing in last place in the West. After the season, Manotas was sold to Tijuana, while Houston have added midfielders Fafa Picault and Joe Corona for the 2021 season.
Houston Dynamo's rivals
After their move east, the Dynamo's presence in Houston caused the formation of the Texas Derby with FC Dallas. Houston started the rivalry on the right foot, winning 4-3 in the first game and taking five of the first eight meetings. Houston eliminated Dallas from the 2006 US Open Cup and won a first-round play-off series en route to the 2007 MLS Cup title. Dallas turned the tables in the middle of the 2010s with seven straight wins between 2013 and 2015. That stretch included eliminating the Dynamo from two US Open Cups. After five consecutive draws in 2017 and 2018, Houston finally snapped a nine-match winless streak against FC Dallas.
In the 2021 season, Texas will have a third team as Austin FC joins MLS. The three teams - Austin, Dallas and Houston - form a triangle, with Austin 100 miles closer to Houston than Dallas.
Houston Dynamo's top players
The Dynamo have had three players score at least 50 goals in their history, including current player Mauro Manotas, who has 51. Brian Ching is the record holder with 56 goals, while Will Bruin scored 50. Manotas holds the single-season record with 19 goals in 2018, and he has scored 10 times in the US Open Cup.
Brad Davis holds the team record with 120 career assists in his decade with the Dynamo. The next highest tally is by active player Boniek Garcia with 41 assists since 2012.
Pat Onstad has made the most starts in goal with 136 and has a team-record 37 clean sheets. Tally Hall is second on both lists with 130 games and 35 clean sheets.
The Dynamo have had nine Designated Players since 2009, including DaMarcus Beasley, Manotas, Alberth Elis and Tomas Martinez.