Single-elimination tournaments are tough. But so are the Dynamo players. As with the NCAA basketball tournaments, you have to keep winning or you're done. Through a combination of luck and labor, a squad that has had trouble winning in the league this year managed to win all five Open Cup matches. And I do mean luck: The draws before each round were rather generous, giving the Dynamo home field every time.
Despite the thrilling match and its more thrilling conclusion, I have a few grievances to air, some of them not for the first time:
- Sure, it was a weeknight, with heavy rain a possibility. But there are 6 million-plus people in Metro Houston, & we could only fill about 12,000 seats for a tournament final? I have seen BBVA Compass a lot fuller, even this season. When the Dynamo played at UH, they didn't have the acres of empty seats they've had so often in recent years. On the plus side, the 12,000 or so who did show up were into it.
- Sure, it's cool to be able to win the tournament at your home ground. Other countries have their tournament finals at a neutral ground, usually a national stadium in the capital, like Wembley or St. Denis. The USA doesn't have such a stadium for big national and international matches. Actually, given our size, we should have two or three of them: e.g., seldom-used stadia like RFK Stadium & the Rose Bowl. We could even modify & repurpose the Astrodome for that if current plans fall through.
- Last night EaDo* was a hellacious mess, partly due to street construction and mud everywhere, but mostly due to the thousands of millennials in various corporation t-shirts at the George R. Brown Convention Center for the Grace Hopper Celebration. As I was making my way to the stadium via MetroRail, they poured out of the GRB & flocked into EaDo for dinner & various functions, filling up all the available restaurants & bars. The Green Line train took 15 minutes to get from Austin Street to Convention District Station (four blocks). Unlike riding the bus, one can't just jump off the train between stops & walk the rest of the way. (Even if it put a crimp in my night, Grace Hopper certainly deserves her own annual celebration. I hope those assembled for it had a splendid evening. Too bad it's such a corporate-centric affair.)
* If the designation "EaDo" for Second Ward just east of Downtown offends you, I'm sorry. It offends me too, but it has become a ubiquitous usage.