Derby County
11:45 AM UTC
Game Details
 By Arch Bell

Can the Dynamo ride the Astros' title buzz in Houston to MLS Cup?

In Houston, where oil and gas are among the major industries, it only makes sense the city is overflowing with energy at the moment.

It has nothing to do with Exxon Mobil's 10,000-person campus up in the northern suburb of Spring, or the businesses situated in the Energy Corridor along Interstate 10 in Katy, or the number of oil and gas companies that dot Louisiana Street in downtown. Rather, it is the Houston's sports teams.

Earlier this month, for the first time in franchise history -- a span of 56 years -- the Houston Astros won the World Series, extinguishing postseason ghosts that had haunted the team for decades. The feeling in Texas' largest city is electric and it has stoked a hunger for even more winning.

That's where the Houston Dynamo come in. After years in the wilderness, the two-time MLS Cup champions are back among the league's elite in the Western Conference final against the Seattle Sounders and are 180 minutes away from their first MLS Cup since 2012. If there was ever a moment for the Dynamo to ride that wave of enthusiasm, it is now.

"There's an incredible buzz right now in the city," Dynamo president Chris Canetti told ESPN FC via phone. "The Astros were the biggest sports story in Houston and it's great that the Dynamo can come in and grab some of that momentum. The fans are really energized."

The signs are there, literally. Stationed on the eastbound side of Loop 610 near NRG Stadium -- home of the Houston Texans -- is a massive Dynamo billboard that has surely gotten the attention of commuters who are stuck in Houston's famous traffic.

City leaders are also getting into the spirit and embracing the club's playoff run. Mayor Sylvester Turner is fully on board, prominently displaying his Dynamo allegiance on his Facebook and Twitter pages.

For the Dynamo, this surge could also pave the way for a new legion of fans, which some local media believe would be just desserts.

Mauro Manotas
Mauro Manotas and the Dynamo are riding Houston's championship buzz after the Astros' World Series win.

"I definitely feel like the Dynamo are underappreciated when you consider the quality of the stadium experience and game presentation," said Sean Pendergast, co-host of "The Triple Threat" on Sports Radio 610. "A night at BBVA Compass Stadium is as enjoyable a sporting event as you'll find in town. It's very evident how diligently the entire staff works to create a top-notch experience."

The excitement surrounding the team is also spilling over into Houston's other sports teams. Astros pitcher Joe Musgrove posted a photo of himself on Instagram wearing a Dynamo jersey as he gave a new car to his parents. Houston Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute sent out a congratulatory message via Twitter after the Dynamo's stunning 2-1 win in Portland in the Western Conference semifinal second leg. No doubt that among Houston professional athletes, the Dynamo players garner plenty of respect.

"I absolutely think that players from the other three sports see the Dynamo as their peers. There are a lot of soccer fans in the locker rooms and clubhouses of those other three sports," said Pendergast.

While the Dynamo have recently suffered from attendance woes, on Friday it was announced that next week's first leg against Seattle is sold out, just the third time that they have filled their 22,039-seat stadium since July 2015. That's a stark contrast to the crowds that attended the first-round playoff match against Sporting Kansas City (14,426) and the first leg in the previous round against Portland (15,169), when the club only had days to promote and sell.

"We had such little notice in the previous games. The challenges were substantial, plus both games coincided with the Astros in the World Series. For the Seattle game we've had so much more time to prepare and I think the response shows the people's excitement," said Canetti.

Business around BBVA Compass Stadium are also expecting an uptick prior to the Nov. 21 game. On normal gamedays the block that is closed down on Rusk Boulevard in front of Lucky's Pub gets around 2,000-3,000 fans, yet Lucky's general manager and events coordinator Andi Aldridge expects double that amount next week.

"We'll have around 5,000 for sure," said Aldridge. "This will be bigger than the Dynamo's opening day in May 2012. The city is just crazy right now."

It remains to be seen if this buzz can continue for future seasons in Houston, but for now it could well push the Dynamo all the way to MLS Cup.

Arch Bell is based in Austin, Texas and covers CONCACAF for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ArchBell .


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