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Sunday, November 4, 2012
MLS Fan Watch: Houston Dynamo

By Chris Gigley
ESPN The Magazine

Houston Dynamo
Dynamo supporters will be in full voice when Sporting KC visits for the MLS conference semifinals.
Editor's note: Welcome to MLS Fan Watch, in which ESPN Playbook takes a closer look at the supporting group for each of the eight MLS conference semifinalists. The third in the series focuses on fans of the Houston Dynamo.

Houston Dynamo enters the MLS Cup Playoffs with a lower seed and worse record than Sporting Kansas City, but these two teams have played each other virtually even all year.

They had three draws at Livestrong Sporting Park, but Houston might have an advantage at home. The Dynamo pulled out a 2-1 win there in July.

Plus, Houston was 11-0-6 in this, its first season at $95 million BBVA Compass Stadium.

Here then, is why the Dynamo have been so hard to beat on their home ground.

Stadium: BBVA Compass Stadium
Opened: 2012
Capacity: 22,000

Supporter groups and stadium locations:

South End (Sections 133-137)

-- Texian Army: The team’s longest-standing supporter group, organized when news leaked of MLS’ expansion to Houston in 2005. They’re a well-organized bunch, with chants, songs and tifo displays.

-- El Batallon: Mimics the lively supporter groups in Latin America with its own band, Los de Siempre, leading members in song and chants for 90 minutes. They like to make a dramatic entrance, filing to their seats to the beat of Los de Siempre’s drummer.

-- La Bateria: Known for its cumbia and reggaton rhythms throughout games. It is also the most open of the groups, with no membership fees.

-- Brickwall Firm: This group sits with the Texian Army. Formed in 2009, it leans more toward European-style support with its chants and songs.

Known for: Unpredictable weather. One of the few complaints about the Dynamo’s beautiful new home is it doesn’t have a retractable roof like Reliant Stadium and Minute Maid Park.

That’s because the weather can be such a variable, particularly at this time of the year. Sunday’s forecast calls for a chance of thunderstorms and temperatures in the 70s at kickoff.

But the locals know that anything goes.

Sample chant: "Oh Dynamo" – Texian Army

"Oh Dynamo
Oh Dynamo
You are my love
You're all I need
We'll follow you wherever you may go
You give us life, you give us fight
We give them back to you

Brian Ching
This might be Ching's last run at the MLS Cup.
Fan favorite: Brian Ching, forward. The Dynamo captain moved to Houston when the team relocated from San Jose in 2006. When he scored four goals in Houston's first game, his status as fan favorite was set in stone.

Now 34, Ching is contemplating retiring after his run in this year’s MLS Cup.

Opponent’s perspective: “I think playing in a soccer-specific stadium is huge because it puts the fans closer to the action. I will say that at BBVA, the fans aren’t as on top of you as they are at our home field. Their stadium feels bigger and expands away from the field more than ours. So while their fans are loud for 90 minutes solid, you can’t really make out what they’re saying.” -- Chance Myers, Sporting KC defender