The busy, crowded schedule of the Houston Dynamo just got busier, and more crowded.
A match Saturday at Robertson Stadium against San Jose has been postponed to Oct. 15. City, stadium, and team officials had been meeting the past few days to evaluate the feasibility of playing the match; while Robertson sustained scant damage from Hurricane Ike, stadium infrastructure and access roads are far from adequate.
Houston was supposed to play Luis Angel Firpo in its Concacaf Champions League opener on Wednesday; that match has been postponed and is not yet rescheduled. Houston Police Department chief Harold Hurtt recommended that all public activities and performances be suspended until Monday. The storm inundated city streets and knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses, and hit the nearby city of Galveston even harder.
"Officials from the city approached us this morning and requested that we not move forward with Saturday's game in the interest of public safety," Dynamo president and general manager Oliver Luck said Wednesday. "Although this is not an ideal situation for our organization, we feel it is the right thing to do for the region, given the circumstances. We'd like to thank officials from the city and from the university for their help."
Also thankful for help were the Dynamo players and coaches, most of whom moved their families out of the city or to safer venues prior to their departure for last weekend's game in San Jose, which ended in a 1-1 tie.
"They drove to San Antonio on Thursday, not so much because we were concerned about the house blowing away but just losing power and taking care of the little one," said Richard Mulrooney of his wife and infant daughter. "Unfortunately it was a 7 ½-, 8-hour drive at five miles an hour, but she got there safe and sound.
"Our front office did a great job. They offered us hotels downtown if they wanted that option or a hotel in Dallas if they wanted that option. Just top-notch. We're worried about a game here but family comes first and whatever we needed to do the front office was ready to help us. It really is appreciated."
After they arrived in San Jose, many of the players lost contact with their families when the storm hit late Friday afternoon and spent an anxious night and much of game day waiting to reconnect.
"Me personally probably underestimated what a hurricane is and what it can do," said assistant coach John Spencer, a native of Glasgow. "I've never seen one except for television but a lot of guys didn't pick up with their families until midday [Saturday], or three or four o'clock. Believe me, there's a lot of thoughts that go through your head when you can't get in contact with people back home and it was quite frightening."
Said goalie Pat Onstad, a father of three: "It's just incredible what's been happening down there. Guys drive their families to Galveston for the day, it's only about 30 minutes away, and there are parts of that city that have been just washed away."
The postponements did permit players, coaches and staff more time to clean up and re-organize their lives, but have created a nearly irresolvable scheduling logjam.
The rescheduled MLS match has filled the lone available midweek date, and even the Tuesday (Oct. 28), following the end of the regular season is already filled by an away match against Luis Angel Firpo.
One of the few possibilities is Oct. 10, a Friday, three days after a road game in Panama against San Francisco FC and two days prior to a league match against D.C. United. The D.C.-Houston regular-season meeting at RFK Stadium had to be postponed twice because of lightning storms and eventually took place the day before the All-Star Game.
"We had a little talk in there and our schedule over the next seven weeks is cruel," said Coach Dominic Kinnear after the San Jose game but before the postponements were announced. "We're trying to make sure we get through this stretch with as much health as possible."