Houston Dynamo Flashback Series: Tony Caig

Throughout their entire history, the Houston Dynamo have been known for a strong defense, anchored by a great ‘keeper. They started life out with legendary Canadian net minder Pat Onstad and had a slew of backups over the years, such as Zack Wells and, in 2008, English goalkeeper Tony Caig. The former Carlisle United legend signed in the January transfer window as Onstad’s backup, which was a smart move by head coach Dominic Kinnear at the time.

That year, FIFA World Cup Qualifiers began in earnest so the Dynamo knew that Onstad would be gone quite a bit representing his country and Caig came in with a lot of experience in the United Kingdom, having played in multiple leagues in England and a stint in Scotland, plus a long spell in Canada with the then USL Vancouver Whitecaps.

In mid-June, Onstad was called up by Canada for a home and away series against St. Vincent/Grenadines, in an early round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. During that stretch the Dynamo had a home game against the New England Revolution and a road match against the Colorado Rapids. Kinnear gave the nod to Caig, who suited up, ready to protect the pipes.

The day: June 12, 2008

The Dynamo came into the match riding a 3 game unbeaten streak. After a slow start to the season, especially an embarrassing exit in the CONCACAF Champions Cup at the hands of Costa Rican giants Saprissa, it seemed like the Dynamo had found their groove and were ready to take Major League Soccer by storm. Their home match against the Revolution was going to be a difficult one, though, as the Dynamo were without Onstad, Canadian attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario and US striker Brian Ching. They also had a horrible record against the Revs, having never beaten them during the regular season in 5 outings.

What’s worse is that the Revolution came in flying high, enjoying a five game unbeaten streak, despite missing players themselves including Grenada great Shalrie Joseph. As the game kicked off, the Dynamo struck fast when Brian Mullan put a low shot on frame just 20 seconds in, which was parried away by Matt Reis. Current Dynamo assistant coach Steve Ralston put the Revolution on top in the 8th minute when he tapped in a low cross from Kheli Dube. It was probably the easiest goal Ralston ever scored in his career.

The Dynamo fired back furiously, putting the Boston club on their heels. The best chance came in the 26th minute when Corey Ashe found himself alone at the top of the box and picked up a loose ball after it had bounced around a bit. He sent a low cross in front of goal and Geoff Cameron nearly scored but the ball deflected off his foot and went wide.

In the 35th minute, the Revolution sent a long shot toward the far post which Caig was able to parry away for a corner kick.

The moment: 36th minute of the match

Mauricio Castro whipped a corner into the box. The Dynamo defense scrambled to cover their marks as everyone pushed and shoved for positioning. Brad Davis was standing just behind the Revolution’s Kheli Dube. He took a step off from the Zimbabwean forward and watched as the ball fell right to Dube. The ball was volleyed towards goal, taken right out of mid-air. Beautiful. It ricocheted off the ground towards Caig. The stadium had a moment of silence, fully expecting the English veteran to either catch the ball or parry it away with a double-fisted punch.

Ever so agonizingly slowly, the ball spun in air towards him, yet his arms remained at his side. As the ball approached, one couldn’t help but think he’ll catch it, somehow, trapping the ball against his chest in a bear hug. The ball hits his chest, and this is when The Moment happened. When Houston Dynamo goalkeeping was changed forever, and a new expression was created.

Pulling a Caiger.

Sure, we all know kegs and how much fun they can be. All the excitement, adventure and memories that result from it. We also know, thanks to this match, that kegs can help erase their name-sake when a Caiger happens.

Inexplicably, Caig redirects the ball from his chest and into his own net, his arms never having left his side. Goal! The Revolution take a 2 – 0 lead, one they’ll never give up and go on to win the match by the same score. From that moment on, whenever a goalkeeper did something absolutely inexplicable that resulted in a goal, it was called a Caiger.

Bill Hamid somehow dropping the ball into his own net in the playoffs against the New York Red Bulls, 2012? A Caiger. England International Robert Green somehow letting the ball slip from his hands into the goal during a 2010 FIFA World Cup Group Stage match against the US? A Caiger.

Check it out for yourself around the 1:25 mark:

So when you go to watch soccer from around the world, and a goalkeeper does something mind-boggling, just lean over to your friend and say they pulled a Caiger. ‘Cause that’s just what it is after that match.