A soccer rant

Can Dynamo gain more relevance in Houston?

Houston Dynamo hosted Columbus Crew SC in the first "End Cancer Night" at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Glenn Davis is the host of Soccer Matters on ESPN 97.5 FM every Tuesday 7-9 p.m. (podcasts) and a play-by-play announcer for ESPN, FOX Sports and local Houston Dynamo broadcasts. Davis was a professional soccer defender for the United Soccer League's Houston Dynamos in the 1980s and a youth coach for several years.

I am climbing up on the soapbox after seeing the attendance at both the Dynamo and Dash games this weekend in a city of 6.5 million people. This is a very general post that does not go in to details.

As a play-by-play commentator, I want to be calling games with a sold-out BBVA Compass Stadium showcased on TV. Why don't we believe we can be like Sporting Kansas City or Portland and sell out every match? Yes I want what Atlanta, Minnesota, Seattle and other markets have: pressure, fans, discussion, desire to make it all better and a esprit de corps with like minded individuals in larger numbers yet I feel we have become content.

Houston is a great soccer city but it is being judged in many cases for the attendance that we have had over the years in MLS, which has created a fatigue. We have many that pander to the MLS product instead of treating it professionally and talking pros and cons.

Every weekend bars are packed with fans of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Tigres and so on. Stop this nonsense that this is not a "potentially" great MLS city.

Stop believing that media will cover our sport outside of the big international matches. Relationships must be created with media and this will take time and effort to bring the Dynamo into the consciousness of our sports media landscape.

We are not entitled to coverage and it is time to change hearts and minds about our game.

So what is it WE can do IF this means something to you?

Support those that cover the sport, demand more from those that don't cover the sport. Support those that sponsor the sport. Attend games. Grow the soccer culture.

Why can't our supporters groups grow and swell to larger proportions? I want to see passionate groups like El Batallón and Texian Army extend and grow the game further!

You can also hold us all accountable including your two professional teams. Speak out, call my radio show Soccer Matters on ESPN 97.5 FM, I have a platform for you!

Healthy criticism means you have arrived! Above all, have fun.

Call other radio shows, talk with your friends, debate. I run in to people all the time that want to talk soccer and Dynamo to me.

The current Dynamo squad is arguably the most excited that we have had with pace, youth, a high-tempo game and yes they are getting results. Games are exciting at BBVA but don't think just winning will bring fans to a stadium - it simply is a component.

You are allowed to be critical and you are allowed to look at the team "through orange glasses," this is your choice and this is the beauty of supporting your team and being a fan.

Lets end the excuses. Excuses mean you do not have answers or solutions.

Remarkably, I heard someone say to me the other day that the Dynamo should be moved to St. Louis. I was stunned. I have heard those supposedly involved in our sport tell me "Houston is not a good soccer market."

You can be a part of making MLS more relevant in this market if you believe in the product! If you don't, I want to know why and the Houston Dynamo need to hear you.

We have a lot to be fortunate for in this city with two professional teams, regular stops for huge international matches and an amazing youth and adult soccer community. The ceiling is high with so much potential on all fronts.

ELIS INJURED IN COMEBACK WIN

5 kicks from Houston Dynamo's 2-1 win over D.C. United

Credit Trask Smith/Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo withstood Wayne Rooney's D.C. United plus an injury to star player Alberth Elis on their way to their seventh win of the season. El Campo native Memo Rodriguez and off-season signing Thomas McNamara scored in the 67th and 68th minutes, respectively, to lead the club to a comeback victory.

Here are five observations from the win:

1) Call it a comeback

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United | May 18, 2019 youtu.be

Both the Dynamo and D.C. United were undefeated this season in matches where they took the lead first. Houston's record was 1-1-2 when giving up the first goal.

On Saturday night, they didn't need to rely on the advantage of opening up the scoreline. Wayne Rooney scored the match's first goal right after the start of the second half before the Dynamo turned on the pressure in attack.

Perhaps the most impressing part of the result was doing it without the wide threats of Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto on the field. Instead it was their substitutes, coincidentally, that drove home the victory.

2) Winning without Elis

Alberth Elis took a headbutt to the side of his skull at the start of the match when he and D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum jumped to dispute a ball in the air. Both players were taken out to the sidelines to get checked, Birnbaum had his head taped after bleeding, and were eventually allowed to return.

It would be minutes later that Elis asked for his substitution, which came in the 11th minute, and was subsequently taken to the locker room for a further evaluation. Despite passing the MLS concussion protocol, the Honduran playmaker wasn't well enough to continue the match.

Elis has been the most influential player for the team this season and a win without him will be a confidence booster. The big question now will be how long the team will be without one their most important contributors.

3) Memo leads the way

An inspired Memo Rodriguez was key to the Dynamo overturning the deficit at home, helping the team avoid a three-match winless streak. The homegrown midfielder took the responsibility of providing a spark in attack by creating his own shooting opportunity.

His goal in the 67th minute injected energy into the crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium and into his team. The Dynamo quickly went for another score and got it just a minute later.

With five goals and two assists, Rodriguez is enjoying his best season for the club. He'll likely pass his career high for minutes played in one season during the first half of the following match - eight games sooner than what it took him to reach that mark last year.

4) A win for Maynor

Defender Maynor Figueroa missed Saturday's match due to his father's passing on Wednesday night. The Honduran defender was on the field for the Dynamo against Timbers FC when the news broke in his home country.

The club showed solidarity with the seven-year Premier League veteran by dedicating the match to him in their pregame team photo. Figueroa joined the team in the off-season after three years at rival FC Dallas and has appeared in the majority of the Dynamo starting lineups this year.

Alejandro Fuenmayor took Figueroa's place in Saturday's starting XI and is expected to continue until Figueroa's return. The Dynamo have two league games left before this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup, a tournament Figueroa is expected to feature in for Honduras.

5) Rooney draws crowd but no sellout

Manchester United and England National Team Legend Wayne Rooney was in town with D.C. United. His appearance, unfortunately for the Dynamo, did very little for the gate in comparison to the visits of other league draws like LA's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Several Manchester United jerseys were seen in what was announced to be a crowd of 15,811 attendees at the 22,000 capacity stadium. That number is only the third highest crowd seen this year after the opening match and the derby against FC Dallas.

The three-time World Cup veteran and former UEFA Champions League winner held up his end with a goal in the 46th minute and, despite the loss, has helped D.C. to a top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Still, hope is bleak if a player of his stature has that little effect on the overall Houston soccer market - if they even knew he was in town.

Dynamo player of the game: Memo Rodriguez

Next up:

Saturday, May 25 at Minnesota United FC (7:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57) [ESPN+ for U.S. non-Houston markets]

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