It was a beautiful night on Monday, December 2nd, at Hotel Zaza in Houston. Houston Dynamo players, staff, and fans paraded through the Hotel, dressed to the nines for the Dynamo Celebration. Sequined dresses and pinstriped suits created an atmosphere that was definitely an orange tie affair.
The Celebration’s schedule revolved around the awarding of the team’s highest accolades. At 7:30, the elegantly dressed collection of celebrators gathered together in a room to sit and recognize the hard work of the team.
Before the ceremony began, fans mingled with the players and filtered through the opulent rooms of Hotel Zaza. Proceeds from the Celebration went to Dynamo Charities, the philanthropic arm of the team. A silent auction helped to raise additional funds. Its items included autographed Dynamo jerseys, date nights, fishing trips, Tally Hall autographed gloves, a 2010 Spain World Cup jersey, a unique bed set that was sewn from Dynamo T-shirts, and mystery bags, among other things. An after party was promised in the Hotel’s Monarch Room, stretching into the wee hours of the night.
Glenn Davis was the Master of Ceremonies during the awards. He read through the concise script that took the audience on a journey of the Dynamo from its inception to the last season.
2013 saw the hard work of many years come to fruition. The Dynamo captured their 100th season win and set an MLS record for the longest unbeaten streak at home (36 games). Captain Brad Davis notched his 100th career assist. At the helm of this, Head Coach Dominic Kinnear moved past Bob Bradley in career wins. Davis delighted the crowd with his off the cuff jokes and rakish charm.
The Dynamo who received awards are as follows:
Kofi Sarkodie collected a bevy of awards: Defender of the Year, Ironman (for the most minutes played as a fielder), and Play of the Year for his back to back goal-line blocks against D.C. United. Sarkodie could not have been more pleased, stating that it is "nice to have all of the hard work pay off."
Tally Hall won the Most Valuable Player award for his presence in the goal and indefatigable spirit tha lead to countless saves that kept the opponents at bay, most recently the New York Red Bulls!
Newcomer of the Year, an award given to the most crucial player NOT on the team last season, went to Andrew Driver. "Great year, hoping to contribute next year," the former Hearts player enthused. After he accepted the award, a cheeky Glenn Davis quipped that Scottish born Kinnear would be needed to interpret the midfielder’s thick accent.
Warren Creavalle took home the Young Player of the Year award, given to an outstanding player age 23 and under. This season, Creavalle saw a dramatic increase in play time after veteran Adam Moffatt was traded. Since then, he's been a true utility player, filling in positions across the field. Warren summarized the season’s experience as "a wild ride."
With 9 goals this season, British born Giles Barnes earned the Budweiser Golden Boot Award. A natural midfielder, Barnes answered the call to step into the offensive wake left by Calen Carr’s injury. It is doubly delightful that Barnes will be returning next season.
Veteran Ricardo Clark won high praises with the Player’s Player of the Year Award. Clark, chosen by his fellow Dynamo as having been the most instrumental to the team’s success, accepted the award with utmost humility. For an endearingly awkward two minutes, Rico abashedly grinned and gave thanks.
The second leg of the Playoffs against New York Red Bulls was determined to be the Game of the Year.
Other notable awards went to Christian Lucatero for Dynamo Academy's Player of the Year, Memo Rodriguez for Dynamo Academy Players' Player of the Year, Bernadette Payne for Fan of the Year, Melissa Duke of the Dynamo Girls for Team Spirit Award and Season Ticket Holder Rob Denton for Forever Orange Award.
The Celebration waxed emotional when Chris Canetti awarded an absent Brian Ching with Humanitarian of the Year for his work with Ching’s Champions and The House that Ching Built. Though absent, Ching accepted his award with a prepared video statement. A bit emotional, Brian thanked the fans. "You support not only me, but every one of my teammates."
It is common knowledge that Ching, now retired, has been given a position in the Dynamo front office. Concluding his speech in absentia, President Canetti joked that missing Dynamo functions was a poor start to Ching’s new career.
Throughout the ceremony, the team emphasized that one crucial event remained for the Dynamo before next season kicks off: Brian Ching’s testimonial match on Friday, December 13th, at 7:30 pm. The match will feature soccer stars of the past and present, many of them former Dynamo. Such a testimonial, rare in the MLS, is a testament to the legacy left by Ching.
If you are interested in obtaining tickets to the testimonial match, you can do so here.