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The team was created on December 15, 2005 when the San Jose Earthquakes players and head coach Dominic Kinnear were relocated, due to AEG being unable to secure a soccer-specific stadium. Although all of San Jose's players and Kinnear moved to Houston, the team's name, logo, history and statistics were not transferred and remained inactive in San Jose until the Earthquakes were reactivated in 2007. The Dynamo was thus officially a new team.
On January 25, 2006, Houston 1836 was first announced as the team name. This followed an online survey for the fans to provide unofficial suggestions for the new team name, with given options of: Apollos, Bulls, Eagles, Gatos, Lonestars, Stallions, Toros, Americans, Buffaloes, Generals, Houston 1836, Mustangs, and Stars. According to MLS & AEG, who chose the name, the 1836 name referred to the year that the city of Houston was founded by brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen, though it had perceived ambiguity, as it is also the year of Texan independence from Mexico. Houston 1836's logo featured a silhouette of General Sam Houston, one of Houston's and Texas' most famous historical figures.
The choice of Houston 1836, however, soon became a political issue. While their stated intent was to link to the founding year of the city, it raised a furor among some locals of Hispanic descent, a major target audience, who related 1836 with the war for Texas independence.
Due to protests from Hispanic fans, MLS opted to choose another name, "Dynamo", which refers to Houston's energy-based industrial economy, as well as a previous Houston soccer team, Houston Dynamos who played in the Lone Star Soccer Alliance and United Soccer League. The official reason for the name is that "Dynamo is a word to describe someone who never fatigues, never gives up. The name is symbolic of Houston as an energetic, hard-working, risk-taking kind of town." However, the name "Dynamo" also has precedent in the soccer world, specifically in the former Soviet Union and its allies (Dynamo Kyiv, Dynamo Minsk, Dinamo Bucureşti, Dynamo Moscow,Dinamo Zagreb, Dinamo Tirana and Dynamo Dresden among others) where the Dynamo Sports Club and its equivalents like the SV Dynamo were prominent Soviet institutions and notoriously held associations with the secret police forces, like the Soviet KGB and the East German Stasi.The team colors are orange, white, and "Space City" blue or "Luv Ya Blue" (light blue), meant as a symbol of the city of Houston flag which is light blue and of yet another team in Houston's sports history, the Houston Oilers of the NFL.
The Dynamo kicked off their 2006 season early competing in the Carolina Challenge Cup, finishing 2-1-0; thus, winning it. The Dynamo played their league first game on April 2, 2006. In front of a crowd of 25,462 in Robertson Stadium, the Dynamo beat the Colorado Rapids 5–2.Brian Ching led the charge for the Dynamo with four goals, all of which were set up with assists from teammate Dwayne De Rosario. Later in the season they went on to beat established MLS clubs such as D.C. United, Los Angeles Galaxy, New England Revolution, Chicago Fire and eventually their Texan state rivals FC Dallas.
The Dynamo finished their first season in Houston with an 11-8-13 record, earning them second place in the Western Conference. In the Conference semifinal playoffs, they beat Chivas USA. On November 5, 2006, they beat Colorado Rapids 3-1 in the Western Conference Final to advance to the MLS Cup.
On November 12, 2006 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, Houston beat New England Revolution 4-3 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie to win the 2006 MLS Cup. The game was scoreless until the second half of extra time, when New England's Taylor Twellman scored. Only one minute and six seconds later, Brian Ching headed in the tying goal for Houston, and the championship was, for the first time in MLS history, decided by a penalty shootout. Substitutes Kelly Gray and Stuart Holden scored Houston's first two penalty kicks. Dwayne De Rosario and Brian Ching scored the last two. Ching's gave Houston a 4-3 lead, and goalkeeper Pat Onstad saved New England's Jay Heaps penalty kick to secure the MLS Cup for Houston. By winning the MLS Cup, Houston qualified for the 2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup.
In the next season the Dynamo finished in second place in the regular season in the Western Conference, advancing to the 2007 MLS Cup Playoffs, where they met state rivals FC Dallas in the first round. Dallas won the first leg 1-0, but Houston won the second leg at Robertson Stadium, 4-1 in extra time, to win 4-2 on aggregate. Houston faced the Kansas City Wizards in the Western Conference final, winning 2-0 to advance to the MLS Cup championship game for the second year in a row. Just like in 2006, they faced the New England Revolution for the championship, and won it 2-1 on a game-winning goal by Dwayne De Rosario in the second half, thus winning their second MLS Cup in a row.
They would still remain a top team, making the playoffs consistently.
During the 2009-10 offseason, the Dynamo saw the departures of two key players, Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers).
The Houston Dynamo competed in the 2010 Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando, Florida. The club would lose to the New York Red Bulls in the Semifinals (0-0, 5-6 in PKs), but would claim third place after defeating Texas Derby rival, FC Dallas, by a score of 2-1.
The 2010 season was kicked off with a 1-1 draw against Texas Derby rivals, FC Dallas, at Pizza Hut Park. The home opener hampered the season as Brian Ching was out for 4–6 weeks because of a left hamstring strain suffered during the first half against Real Salt Lake. The Dynamo went on to win the game, 2-1, on a pair of penalty goals by Brad Davis. Geoff Cameron was the next player to be lost during the season after rupturing his PCL during a game against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park; the Fire would win the game, 2-0. Cameron surprised everyone and returned in August, and scored a 70th minute header from a free kick by Brad Davis against DC United in the Dynamo's 3-1 win on September 25 in RFK Stadium. The majority of the season saw the Dynamo win, lose, and tie almost in that order (while going winless during the months of June and July) with the club losing out on the playoffs by Week 17, going only 4-7-2 since then. The Dynamo would finish the season going 9-15-6 (7th in the West, 12th overall) and would miss the playoffs for the first time since moving to Houston during the 2005-06 offseason.
The Dynamo, however, finished strong with the club's only winning streak all season coming at the very end of the season with wins against playoff bound teams at San Jose (1-0) on October 16 and at home against Seattle (2-1) on October 23 with rookie goalkeeper Tyler Deric in goal. During the 2010 season, the Dynamo continued their season with the 2010 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The club would defeat Miami FC, 1-0, on June 29 before losing to Chivas USA, 1-3 in the Quarterfinals on July 6 (both games at Robertson Stadium). The Dynamo also competed in the 2010 North American SuperLiga, winning the group before exiting quickly after a 0-1 loss to Morelia on August 5 at Robertson Stadium.
The Dynamo ended the 2011 season in second place in the Eastern Conference with a record of twelve wins, nine losses, and thirteen draws for 49 points. This record was fueled by the left foot of MVP candidate Brad Davis's league leading 16 assists. In the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Dynamo were matched up against the Philadelphia Union, which the Dynamo won 3-1 in the home and home series. Meanwhile, in the other Eastern Conference Semifinal, the number one seed Sporting Kansas City easily disposed of the Colorado Rapids behind two 2-0 results. Therefore for the Eastern Conference Final, the Dynamo would have to travel to Kansas City play the team they had lost to 3-0 earlier that season. In the first half of the game, midfielder Brad Davis was injured with a torn right quad muscle. Despite this blow to the Dynamo's offensive capabilities, the team fought on to score twice, and earn their ticket to the MLS Final and a chance to face their former Western Conference rival, the Los Angeles Galaxy.
By chance, Los Angeles's own Home Depot Center had been selected to host that year's MLS Final. Just two seasons prior, the Dynamo faced the Galaxy there in the Western Conference Final, during which several momentum killing blackouts occurred, and, in the weeks leading up to the game, a few of the Dynamo players joked that hopefully LA had paid their electricity bill this year. Unfortunately for the Dynamo, they were not able to power through the game, surrendering a goal to Designated Player Landon Donovan in the 72nd minute.
2012 was an exciting year for the Dynamo. Though they were forced to play their first 7 MLS regular season matches on the road, it was for good reason. BBVA Compass Stadium, the new home of the Dynamo, was being constructed and eventually opened on May 12, 2012. Despite the Dynamo only winning 2 away matches during the entirety of the 2011 season, they began the 2012 season with a bang, winning their first two matches (both away), vs. Chivas USA and the eventual Supporters' Shield winners the San Jose Earthquakes. Unfortunately they were only able to scoop another 2 points from their next 5 matches, beginning the season with 8 points from 7 road matches to start the year.
After completion of their new stadium, BBVA Compass Stadium, the Dynamo made their home debut on May 12, 2012 vs. D.C. United. The Dynamo came out victors thanks to a Brad Davis strike from 35 yards out which beat D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid and found the upper corner of the net. The win happened in front of a capacity crowd of 22,039 and would mark the beginning of what would be an unbeaten year for the Dynamo at home, posting a year-end home record of 11-0-6.
The Dynamo's MLS regular season was marked by ups and downs and changes in formation from a 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 and back again by long-time manager Dominic Kinnear. Despite star center back Geoff Cameron's transfer to Stoke City midseason, The Dynamo went unbeaten with a record of 5-0-2 from July 3 to August 3, marked by superb play from captain Brad Davis, Calen Carr, newcomer Macoumba Kandji, new designated player Oscar Boniek Garcia, and the emergence of Will Bruin as a prominent goal scorer, who subsequently went on to lead the Dynamo in scoring with 12 regular season goals, the Dynamo seemed poised to finish in the top 3 in the Eastern Conference. However, some late season lapses caused the Dynamo to drop from 2nd to 5th in the Eastern Conference and only make the playoffs as the wild card, where they would travel to Chicago to face the Chicago Fire in the MLS Wild Card Match.
Buoyed by 2 goals by Will Bruin (12th and 46th minute, respectively), the Dynamo held on to a 2-1 victory in Chicago despite a goal from Brazilian Alex in the 83rd minute. The Dynamo were then set to face one of their rivals, and top seed in the Eastern Conference, Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, which was to be played over two legs. Behind a brilliant first-half strike from Adam Moffat and Will Bruin’s third goal of the postseason, Houston extended their unbeaten streak at home to 29 games in all competitions, handing Kansas City a 2-0 loss in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals in front of 20,689 fans at BBVA Compass Stadium. In front of a wild crowd of 20,894, Kansas City came up just short in their quest to erase a 2-0 first-leg deficit in the Eastern Conference semifinals. They defeated the Dynamo 1-0 but allowed the Dynamo to survive 2-1 on aggregate despite the Dynamo having just 29 percent of the possession. They would advance to face D.C. United in the Eastern Conference Finals, with the first leg being played in Houston. D.C.'s woes in Houston continued in the playoffs as they fell in the first leg 3-1. The Dynamo used goals from Andre Hainault (51st minute), Will Bruin (68th minute) and Kofi Sarkodie (81st minute) to cancel out Nick DeLeon’s (27th minute) opener in front of 22,101 fans. In the second leg, D.C.'s hopes were crushed by a 33rd minute goal from Oscar Boniek Garcia, which moved the tie to 4-1 on aggregate in favor of Houston, and though the game ultimately ended 1-1 due to a very nice tying goal from Branko Boskovic, the Dynamo held on easily for a 4-2 aggregate win, and advanced to their second straight MLS Cup to face the Los Angeles Galaxy
MLS Cup 2012 was hosted by L.A. in a rematch of the 2011 MLS Cup, this time in front of a sellout crowd of 30,510. After controlling large portions of the first half and getting a very nice goal from striker Calen Carr in the 44th minute, the Dynamo were able to take a 1-0 halftime lead into the locker room. However, the 2nd half turned the game on its head beginning with Carr's unfortunate ACL tear suffered in the 59th minute, in which he was replaced by Macoumba Kandji. Only one minute after this injury, the Galaxy equalized through Omar Gonzalez when the towering central defender banged home a header in the 60th minute. Five minutes later, U.S. international and all-time leading goal-scorer Landon Donovan sealed the Dynamo's fate just as he had the year before with a penalty after Ricardo Clark was judged to have handled the ball in the area. Designated Player Robbie Keane added a third for L.A. late in the match (94th minute), when the game was seemingly out of reach for Houston, and L.A. were crowned MLS Champions for 2012.
Despite the heartbreaking loss for the 2nd year in a row to the Galaxy, the Houston Dynamo had a season they could be proud of. During the 2012 season they had gone undefeated at home, in a new stadium, and counting years past they had actually built up an unbeaten streak of 30 matches in all competitions at home. Will Bruin had emerged in his 2nd year with the team as their leading goal-scorer and striker for the future. Newly acquired Designated Player Oscar Boniek Garcia had a productive half-season and by season's end had won MLS Latin Player of the Year honors as voted on by the fans. With their MLS Cup appearance in 2012, it marked the Dynamo's 4th MLS Cup appearance in their 7 year existence in the league, which is the highest appearance percentage in league history. The reserve team for the Dynamo won their division in the MLS Reserve League as well, by topping the Central/Mountain Conference. The Dynamo also used 2012 to top their group in the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League, where they would move on to face Santos Laguna in the round of 16 of the competition to be played March 5, 2013. By finishing as runners-up in MLS Cup, they were awarded a berth in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League as well. Overall, the season was filled with ups and downs for the Dynamo, but in the end, it was another very successful season for the club.