Next week I will roll out my choices for the Top 10 Texas soccer stories of 2017. In compiling this list, it became apparent that there were far more than ten stories, both positive and adverse, that should be recognized. This “other stories” list is certainly not comprehensive. In a state as big as Texas it is hard to stay on top of everything that happens in the soccer landscape. If there is anything I have missed after the Top 10 next week, please let me know and I will correct any obvious misses.
Positive stories (in no particular order)
- The US Soccer National Hall of Fame in Frisco hired an executive director (Djorn Buchholz), began construction of the building where it will be housed and announced this week that the opening weekend and 2018 class induction will kick off on October 20, 2018. Without knowing what will happen in 2018, I guarantee the opening of this HOF will be a Top 10 story next year. Establishment of this national soccer history museum is a big feather in FC Dallas, Frisco and Texas’s cap.
- FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez announced in June that he will play for the United States National Team instead of Mexico.
- FC Dallas rolled out a very creative program in March to share with season ticket holders a small portion of the proceeds received from the sale of any of the team players. The program began with the 2016 transfer of Fabian Castillo to Turkey and will continue going forward when any additional players are sold.
- The Tyler Junior College Apaches won the national Junior College Championship again in November. This is the 57th national championship for the men and 58th for the women, so I am not sure this is really news….rather the Championship game appears to be part of their schedule now.
- The Hardin Simmons Women’s Soccer Team advanced to the NCAA Division III Final Four last month. Unfortunately the team lost a tough 1-0 decision in the semifinal round to eventual national champion Williams College. Of note, Junior forward Kenne Kessler scored an astounding 37 goals and also chipped in with 10 assists during the season.
- Wayland Baptist University from Plainview won the Men’s NAIA Championship last month after an unlikely season ending six-victory run in the playoffs. The Pioneers soccer program is only 9 years old, so this is quite an accomplishment.
- An August announcement revealed that, after a 26 year hiatus, the World Collegiate Soccer Championship will be hosted by San Antonio for the next five years starting in March 2018. This tournament will consist of 8 teams from all over the world, including representatives from the United States, if invitations are accepted by the NCAA and/or NAIA. Youth and college club tournaments are also planned to be a part of this event. The University of Sao Paulo was the champion the last time the tournament was played in 1992.
- Building on a highly successful Boys Developmental Academy program, US Soccer rolled out a similar nationwide development academy for the Girls this fall. This program caused considerable controversy because the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), founded in 2009 to improve competition, thought they already had this mission covered. Nevertheless five Texas youth soccer clubs are part of the Girls Development Academy inaugural season: Dallas Texans SC, FC Dallas, Houston Dash, Austin’s Lonestar SC and North Texas Solar Soccer Club.
- Houston’s Texans Soccer Club won the US Soccer Development Academy U-17/18 championship on July 16 in Carson, CA-defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy Academy team 2-1 on their home turf. This was the first DA title won by a Houston club.
- Houston Dynamo completed the full transfer of two key contributors, who had been playing with the club on a season long loan. Within the last two weeks forward Alberth Elis has been purchased from CF Monterrey in LigaMX and midfielder Juan David Cabezas from Deportivo Cali in Columbia.
- Indoor soccer returned to the Rio Grande Valley (Hidalgo) as RGV Barracudas began play this fall in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MASL). The club had previously played in Brownsville, before suspending operations in 2016. As would be expected for a new team, the Barracudas got off to a slow start and lost their first six games. Things appear to be turning around for the Barracudas though, as they won their first two matches of the season this week.
Negative stories (again in no order)
- In a horrifying moment, the Houston Dash’s Rachel Daly collapsed on the field on a scorching hot late May day at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. Fortunately, she was OK, but it forced the NWSL to make major changes to their TV contract windows in an attempt to prevent such an occurrence again.
- The El Paso Coyotes first year in the indoor MASL was extremely difficult. The team lost all 20 games on its regular season schedule. The good news is that the club retooled in the offseason, won their opening game of the 2017/18 season and now sits in second place in the Southwest Division with a 5-3 record.
- After an extremely positive first year in 2016, the Rio Grande Valley FC (RGV FC) Toros struggled in year two, finishing in 11th place with a 9-15-8 record and missed the United Soccer League (USL) playoffs. The club will now have its third coach in 3 years. Gerson Echeverry was hired this month by the Houston Dynamo, who control soccer operations at RGV FC, to replace Junior Gonzalez when he left to become an assistant coach at MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy.
- In the middle of the MLS playoffs, Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric was arrested for misdemeanor assault and was subsequently indefinitely suspended by MLS. This was the second time Deric has been involved in legal issues during his time with the Dynamo. The club did not pick up his contract option and his future in Houston and the league is in serious jeopardy.
- In a bizarre MLS rules violation, FC Dallas inserted midfielder Michael Barrios into a late September match at Orlando City when he was ineligible. There are still questions about how both the team and referees did not recognize this rules violation when it occurred. For a time, there was a serious possibility that Dallas would forfeit the match which would have impacted the playoff race in both conferences. In the end though, MLS decided to fine FC Dallas (primarily through reduction of General Allocation money available to the club) and allow the result (a 0-0 draw) to stand.
- Both a positive and a negative story. Curiously, the Midwestern State University Men managed to finish the season undefeated and not win a national championship. Unfortunately, the Mustangs lost in penalties to Cal Poly-Pomona in the NCAA Division II quarterfinal round they hosted in Wichita Falls. Since penalty shootout losses are not officially counted as losses, the men finished with a 20-0-3 record and the dubious honor of not losing-but also not picking up a trophy.
- Hurricane Harvey was the negative story that trumped all others. The impact on soccer was certainly an insignificant part of the horrific damage inflicted on the Gulf Coast Region. The Dynamo’s home, BBVA Compass Stadium, was not impacted by the hurricane and ended up becoming a hub for distribution of disaster relief supplies. The Dynamo and Dash moved their training operations to the DFW area, and were welcomed with open arms in Frisco by FC Dallas. Stadiums for youth and high level adult amateur teams were not so fortunate. The Dutch Lions Soccer Facility in Conroe, as an example, was flooded and suffered heavy damage, though now it fortunately has been restored. Before and after pictures from the Houston Dutch Lions Twitter page from August 31 and October 18: The recovery is nowhere near complete throughout the region. Former Dynamo Stuart Holden and Houston Dynamo Charities will host a nationally televised (FS1-Tape Delay Sunday evening 5:30pm CST) fund raiser “Kick In For Houston” tonight at 5pm at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston that will include soccer players, other professional athletes and celebrities from all over the country. Details are below: