April 2, 2006 (WEEK #1) - MLS Game #6
It's the debut for the Houston Dynamo, as Robertson Stadium is the site for the club's first-ever match. But while the Dynamo are essentially an expansion club, it won't feel like one - nearly the entirety of the team played last year as the San Jose Earthquakes, where they claimed the MLS Supporters' Shield, emblematic of the league's best overall record in the regular season. The Colorado Rapids reached the Western Conference Championship on their home field last year, but couldn't hold off the Galaxy's charge to the title - after showing what form they could possess over the final part of the '04 campaign.
REFEREE: Alex Prus. SAR (bench): George Vergara; JAR (opposite): Kyle Borne; 4th: Colin Tait
MLS Career: 96 games; FC/gm: 30.6; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 21; pens: 34
Games involving Dynamo: first game
Games involving Rapids: P15 W7 L4 T4; FC/gm: 26.7; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 5; pens: 4
INJURY REPORT: HOUSTON DYNAMO - OUT: FW Julian Nash (L hamstring); DF Chris Aloisi (R foot fracture); QUESTIONABLE: DF Eddie Robinson (L knee sprain); MF Brad Davis (sports hernia) ... COLORADO RAPIDS - OUT: Colin Clark (R knee sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
HEAD-TO-HEADThis is the first meeting between the Houston club and Colorado. It's the first of four matches between the teams this season, the first of two at Robertson Stadium. They won't meet again at the bayou until the regular season finale on Oct. 14; in between come the two meetings in Denver, on April 29 and July 26.
Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear vs. COL: P8 W4 L1 D3 ... Fernando Clavijo v HOU: first game
ALL-TIME: first meeting
Major League Soccer makes its bow in Houston, as the Dynamo open their inaugural season at Robertson Stadium. The club isn't quite like a regular expansion team, as the San Jose Earthquakes from a year ago have moved to the bayou, the Supporters' Shield winners still led by Dominic Kinnear, MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Pat Onstad and Dwayne De Rosario, who's hit for the Goal of the Year two years running.
The Dynamo completed their preseason schedule by winning the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C. They concluded the event undefeated, defeating the New York Red Bulls 3-0 in the final match, through goals from Brian Ching, Ryan Cochrane and Brian Mullan.
This was Kinnear's team on the night: Pat Onstad, Kevin Goldthwaite, Adrian Serioux, Ryan Cochrane, Kelly Gray (63: Craig Waibel), Wade Barrett (80: Stuart Holden), Ricardo Clark (88: Mike Chabala), Dwayne De Rosario, Brian Mullen (80: Marcus Storey) , Alejandro Moreno (70: Ronald Cerritos), Brian Ching
In the opening match of the competition, the Dynamo defeated the host Charleston Battery of the USL First Division 1-0, behind a 74th-minute free kick from Ronald Cerritos. Then three nights later, the Dynamo played to a 1-1 draw with D.C. United as Alejandro Moreno and Jaime Moreno traded goals two minutes apart midway through the first half.
Brad Davis did not play in any of the team's three games, but coach Dominic Kinnear expects him to be ready for action, at least as a substitute, for the Dynamo's opener. Davis missed nearly the entirety of the second half of the 2005 campaign after bursting onto the scene in his first season on the left flank for the Earthquakes last year.
Defender Eddie Robinson will not undergo surgery after suffering a ligament tear in his right leg in South Carolina, but is still questionable for the season opener. Robinson has been resting and rehabilitating the injury. "Our plan is to treat this conservatively," team trainer Bruce Morgan said to the Houston Chronicle. "There are no immediate plans to address this surgically."
The Dynamo are ready to get their inaugural season in Houston underway. "It's a long preseason," Kinnear said to the Houston Chronicle. "There is a lot of anticipation because the season is starting, we're starting at home and playing in a new stadium with new fans."
Long-time Colorado Rapids standout striker John Spencer has joined the Dynamo as an assistant coach. "For me to come into this situation, it offers a great opportunity," said the 35-year-old Spencer to The Houston Chronicle. "We want to aim high, and we have the team to do it." Said Kinnear: "He wants to help. He had a great playing career and has a pretty stunning résumé. Best of all, he wants to get involved." Spencer had been working to get his coaching license while serving as a color commentator for Chelsea in the English Premier League. He retired after the 2004 season.
The Colorado Rapids were a game away from the MLS Cup Final last season and playing on their home ground, but couldn't stop the Los Angeles Galaxy juggernaut and reach the championship game for the second time in club history. But after a year spent putting his system in place, Fernando Clavijo has brought a much more settled squad into his second season at the helm in the Mile High City.
The Rapids returned to Colorado at the weekend after nearly two weeks in Spain, where they won twice and lost twice in their four practice matches. They finished with a loss to second division side Eibar, which followed a 2-1 win against second division team Sestao, where goals from Dan Gargan and Cornell Glen gave victory to a Rapids team filled with rookies and second-year players.
The marquee match on the tour was a 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao, where the La Liga side fielded nine of their regular starters. Danobeitia scored the game's only goal just before halftime.
Here's Clavijo's team on the night: Joe Cannon, Chris Wingert, Pablo Mastroeni, Mike Petke, Eric Denton, Terry Cooke (Luchi Gonzalez 75), Kyle Beckerman, Clint Mathis, Dedi Ben-Dayan (Colin Clark 75), Jovan Kirovski, Jean Philippe Peguero
The trip to Spain completed a far-flung preseason for the Rapids. After beginning with 15 days at their Westminster training facility, they headed to Pachuca, Mexico for two weeks. The team then returned for a week to train in the thin air of the Mile High City, before heading off to Spain, first stopping off in Miami for four days.
The Rapids have yet to win a season opener, claiming just two draws in the 10 matches all-time (though three of the losses came via shootout, from 1997-99).