Houston Dynamo Flashback Series: Dominic Kinnear

With the news coming out that Dominic Kinnear might leave the Dynamo to coach the San Jose Earthquakes, and all the drama, concerns, troubles and questions that raises, I thought it’d be a good idea to look back at some of the reasons why Kinnear means so much to the Dynamo. He’s not just loved because he can win games and trophies, his attitude has endeared him to fans and players alike over the years.  He’s long been referred to as a “Player’s Coach” and there are numerous examples of this.

So here are my personal Top 5 Kinnear Moments from over the years.

Number 5

October 31, 2013 – We start off the list with the most recent moment. During a very contentious Playoff match against the Montreal Impact, Kinnear could be seen brooding on the bench, jumping up often to question the referee crew in not so nice tones as he saw his players being fouled repeatedly by the Impact. When right-back Kofi Sarkodie was fouled roughly, and subsequently kicked below the belt by Andres Romero, a brawl ensued. For a moment there, is looked like Corey Ashe was about to throw down with Marco Di Vaio in a full out boxing match.

After Di Vaio scratched Ashe, twice, Kinnear calmly walked right into the middle of the pushing and shoving. Everyone moved out of the way and Kinnear went straight to his diminutive left-back and instantly calmed him, breaking up the fight. He shooed everyone back to their respective positions very quickly, on both sides. It’s a sign of respect by everyone that as soon as he got involved the brawl broke up.

For his troubles, Kinnear was suspended one match by MLS’ Disciplinary Committee for leaving the technical area.

Number 4

Summer, 2007 – This is a personal story that many veteran fans are familiar with. Back then, MLS scheduled Reserve League games usually the day after a match, especially if the game was on a Saturday. Sunday morning during the summer, Kinnear was sitting on the bench with then-Assistant Coach John Spencer, who coached the Reserve Team.

While the game was going on, I and other fans were sitting behind the bench. The two coaches were in close conversation, pointing out various players and discussing the action on the field. Things weren’t going great and I was perhaps a little too vocal in my displeasure. The two occasionally spared a glance over their shoulder to see who the nut was. After jumping out of my seat when a pass was yet again intercepted, I shouted, “He’s wide open! Wide open! Why don’t you pass to him?”

Kinnear and Spencer looked at each other in dismay. Spencer turned around and looked straight at me, saying, “It’s like 7-11: just because he’s open all the time doesn’t mean you should go there.”

I’m not sure who laughed harder: the people sitting around me or Kinnear.

I instantly sat down and didn’t say a peep for the rest of the match, instantly chagrined. This incident goes to show the kind of humor Kinnear has and it’s also my favorite Spencer moment.

Aug 23, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear talks with former Crew and US National Team defender Frainkie Hejduk at Crew Stadium. The Crew won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Number 3

August 26, 2006 – This is the game that really made fans of Kinnear. To say that Referee Alex Prus and Kinnear got along that night is, well, a lie. In a crucial Western Conference showdown with Chivas USA in Los Angeles, Ricardo Clark was ejected from the game in the 31′ for a rough tackle. The game being tied 1 – 1, the Dynamo held on to close out the half without incident.

Just after kick-off, though, Ante Razov scored to give the Goats the lead. Kinnear was constantly on Prus’ case, thinking that Chivas was getting off light for some rough play. When Razov scored 12 minutes later, it was obvious that he was even more upset. Fortunately Dwayne De Rosario put the team on his back and scored again for the brace to give the fans, and players, hope.

Then came stoppage time when all the drama happened. De Rosario found himself all alone with Chivas goalkeeper Preston Burpo. When the Dynamo star was brought down in the box, everyone thought Prus would blow his whistle and point to the spot, as well as pull a red card. When that didn’t happen, Kinnear, and fans back here in Houston, went ballistic. After the match was over, he instantly jumped off his bench and ran right towards Prus, looking for an explanation.

Goalkeeper Pat Onstad intercepted Kinnear and pushed him back, but not before Kinnear got a few words in. For his words, he was fined $1,000 by MLS. Wingstop started a “Fired Up” campaign to support Kinnear, which was hugely successful.

Number 2

October 23, 2012 – In an extremely chippy Champions League Group home game against C. D. Olimpia, Kinnear was constantly on edge. He had more than his fair share of tough words for Guatemalan referee Juan Carlos Guerra. Before the half was up, he was ejected from the match for crossing the line with the referee crew. As security went to escort him from the game, he stopped every few feet to give the referee his thoughts and how his players were not being protected enough from the rough challenges from the Honduran side. As he was escorted off the field, fans gave him a loud standing ovation, showing their support for Kinnear.

He was suspended for the Dynamo’s quarter final home game against Santos Laguna the following year as a result, but fans were happy to have him protect their favorite players in a tough game.

Number 1

November 12, 2006 – This is probably one of the best dates in Dynamo history. In Frisco, Texas, the Dynamo won their first championship in front of a sea of orange clad fans. The moment I’m thinking of specifically is immediately after Brian Ching leveled the game in the 114′, seconds after Taylor Twellman had given the New England Revolution the lead. If you watch the highlights, you can see Kinnear and Spencer jumping up and down, hugging each other in pure joy and excitement. Just seconds later though, the video cuts to him again, and he’s all calm and business and trying to get his players organized and ready to see the game out.

That right there sums of Kinnear: underneath the tough exterior is a soccer fan of the best order, getting caught up in the drama of the game he is watching. But there is that exterior in which he is in absolute control of himself, keeping his players in line and doing whatever he can to motivate, and protect, his players in order to win a title.

What are your favorite Dominic Kinnear moments? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments section below!