April 9th, 2022 is a night that would change my life forever. The Dynamo welcome the San Jose Earthquakes in what would become the first-ever MLS game for me and my family. But to understand the impact of this seemingly irrelevant regular-season game I will need to go back a few weeks.
My family and I took a gamble to come out to Houston for more work opportunities (which took longer than anticipated) now as any new parent can tell you the fear of not being able to provide for your child is one of the heaviest feelings you can have. So at the time, my mental and emotional health was not the best. My girlfriend took note and surprised me with tickets to the upcoming Dynamo game. Soccer was my life growing up but I never had the opportunity to watch an MLS game in person, so I didn't know what to expect and was worried about the cost, and came up with thousands of reasons why not to go. The second I caught a glimpse of PNC Park(currently Shell Energy Stadium), my thoughts began to change.
As we make our way toward the entrance I'm welcomed by a sea of Orange and Black, it's loud chaotic, cramped, and muggy... it was chicken noodle soup for the soul. Despite the crowd, everyone welcomed us as if we were distant cousins reunited for the first time in ages.
We slowly make our way toward our seats and enjoy the pregame show while the teams are beginning to warm up; Bob Marley's voice echoes through the stadium as if some otherworldly force was in play trying to tell me "don't worry about a thing 'cause every little thing is gonna be alright".
The moment the ref blows the whistle, it feels as if a hundred-pound weight had been lifted off my shoulders, all my fears, and doubts had just evaporated.
We are nearly 8 mins into the game when Houston earned a corner, the crowd begins to quiet down as Lundqvist sends a low cross into the box and at that moment time froze... at that moment I wasn't some 30+-year-old watching a live sporting event no... In that brief moment, I was an 8-year-old kid falling in love with the game all over again and as if the entire city of Houston had paused to hold their breath, I realized right there before Sebastian Ferreira makes contact with a lovely low shot into the bottom left corner, I was home.
As the game continues I'm not worried about anything else going on in my life or the world outside of the stadium. I'm just there enjoying every last cheer, boo, and heart-stopping second of the game. Living in that moment with my family and our now extended Orange family.
With this rekindling flame, I have been blessed with a career in soccer coaching and have never felt more at home than I have here in Houston.
As the 2023 season draws near I eagerly await all the ups and of course, the downs that will surely come but through it all We are Orange. Forever we are orange.