50 Years Ago-Professional Soccer is introduced to Texas

Image result for Houston Stars soccer

A little more than 50 years ago the Houston Stars introduced a professional soccer league to Houston for the first time.  Domestic interest in the 1966 England World Cup, won by the home country, convinced a number of owners of teams in other U.S. professional sports that soccer could make money, or in any event help them fill open dates in the stadiums they owned.

One of these owners was Judge Roy Hofheinz who owned baseball’s Houston Astros and co-owned The Astrodome stadium, the self proclaimed “8th Wonder of the World”.  In true American fashion, two groups of individuals had different ideas on how to start a new league.  So despite the fact that no successful soccer league had ever been sustained in the United States, separate leagues started play in 1967.  Details on the start of the other league founded in 1967, the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL), can be found in this story by Michael Lewis in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/17/america-soccer-league-npsl?CMP=share_btn_fb

In May of 1967 the Stars, and the Lamar Hunt owned Dallas Tornado, began play in the other league (the one officially sanctioned by US Soccer) the United Soccer Association (USA).  The original intent was for the USA to begin play a year later in 1968.  The plans needed adjustment, however, because the NPSL decided to start up (with a national TV contract no less) as soon as possible after the completion of the 1966 World Cup to capitalize on interest generated by the tournament.  Assembling teams on short-notice would be a real challenge, especially given the shallow pool of American soccer talent at that time, so the USA decided instead to import complete teams from Europe and South America and position them as franchises in various cities in North America.

The USA Houston Stars were actually Brazilian side Bangu Atletico Clube from the western zone of Rio de Janeiro.  It is hard to believe how good Bangu was at that time since they now play in the fourth division of Brazilian soccer-Campeonato Brasileiro-Serie D.  At that time they were one of the stronger teams in the highly competitive Rio soccer landscape and had won the State Championship in 1966 when they defeated Brazilian soccer power Flamengo 3-0 in front of 120,000 fans at the Maracana Stadium.

Bangu 1966 State Championship squad

Photo from http://www.nasljerseys.com/default.htm and http://www.diarioweb.com.br/

Prior to the start-up of the league, friendly matches were played by a variety of international clubs throughout North America.  On April 19, 1967 the world’s first “indoor” outdoor soccer match was played at the Astrodome. Real Madrid of Spain beat West Ham United of England 3-2 that evening in front of 33,351 fans.

The first official game of the Stars’ USA season (actually a tournament where each team would play 16 games and then a Championship game) was played in the Astrodome on Saturday May 27, 1967 in front of 34,965 spectators….a remarkable number given the challenges the current Houston Dynamo have in getting people to show up for games. The opponent for the opener was the Los Angeles Wolves (represented by England’s Wolverhampton Wolves) whose US franchise was owned by then LA Lakers and Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke.

According to the match accounts in the excellent book Summer of ’67 by U.S. based British journalist Ian Thomson (@i_thomson), the final score was 1-1.  The Stars goal was scored by Paulo Borges, a young forward who ended up scoring 6 goals in 8 games in 1967 for the Stars and 105 total goals for Bangu.  Unfortunately, the Stars goalkeeper, Ubirajara Goncalves Motta suffered an 88th minute injury and needed to leave the match.  His replacement was also injured on the game-tying goal by the Wolves David Woodfield just before time and never played again in the league.

One amusing anecdote from the game, taken from the Summer of ’67 book, involved the Wolves David Burnside.  Instead of returning to the locker room at halftime, Burnside stayed on the field and put on a juggling exhibition at the center circle for the spectators. Who said that David Beckham was the first soccer ambassador from the UK in the United States! The teams returned to the field to sounds of the standing ovation received by Burnside at the completion of this individual display.   

 

   Paulo Borges

Photo from http://www.nasljerseys.com/default.htm and kigol.com.br

Image result for Houston Stars soccer1967 Houston Stars team photo (Wikipedia)

Houston Stars Logo on top of page (Wikipedia)

So how did the ASA 1967 tournament end?  I will continue to follow the progress of the Stars (and Tornado) 1967 seasons on this blog over the next couple of months.

If you can’t wait (haha) or are interested in learning more about the United Soccer Association and it’s single season read Summer of ’67 by Ian Thomson:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18158248-summer-of-67

Texas teams in U.S. Open Cup-Round 4

Both Texas MLS teams, who enter the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in round 4 tomorrow, are the only remaining teams from the state still in the 2017 tournament.

North Carolina FC vs. Houston Dynamo

WakeMed Soccer Park-Cary, NC-6:30 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 14

History is working against the Dynamo.  The club’s record in away U.S. Open Cup games is 1-7, including two losses in the Carolina’s to Charleston Battery.  The only Dynamo road victory came in 2009 when they beat the early version of the USL Austin Aztex (the team that moved to Orlando and eventually became MLS side Orlando City FC).

Because Rio Grande Valley FC doesn’t compete in the U.S. Open Cup and the players who were away on international duty will be missing, the Dynamo has taken the opportunity to call in seven players from its USL affiliate for this match.

Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera discussed how important this game was for the new players:

https://www.houstondynamo.com/post/2017/06/12/us-open-cup-most-important-game-players-looking-first-team-opportunities?autoplay=true

Toros iron-man midfielder Charlie Ward also discussed how important this game is for him and his fellow Toros:

https://www.houstondynamo.com/post/2017/06/12/charlie-ward-looks-forward-open-cup-opportunity-dynamo?autoplay=true

Dallas FC vs. Tulsa Roughnecks 

Westcott Field (SMU)-Dallas-7:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 14

FC Dallas, the defending Open Cup champions, will likely field a reserve-heavy side for this game against Tulsa.  Below is a preview of the game:

https://www.fcdallas.com/post/2017/06/12/setting-stage-fc-dallas-2017-us-open-cup-match-against-tulsa-roughnecks-fc

 

 

Texas NPSL Week 6 Recap

After two impressive road wins, Midland-Odessa FC is now top of the table in the NPSL South Conference-Lone Star Division.

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Week 6 Game Results:

Thursday, June 8

Tyler FC Kings-0    Midland-Odessa FC Sockers-3

The Sockers scored three second half goals in the space of 11 minutes to defeat the Kings 3-0 Thursday night in Tyler.  Memo Diaz scored the opener in the 55th and Zach Penner followed immediately 3 minutes later to make it 2-0.   Both goals were assisted by Jamie O’Grady.  Elliott Bentley finished off the scoring in the 65th minute.

Earlier this week Sergio Gonzalez was named the Tyler FC Player of the Month for May.

“Sergio has been our most consistent attacker… Sergio is usually the first one to arrive to training and he lives further away than most guys on the team…” Says President and Head Coach Chris Avila. He also mentions that ” Sergio is focused and his work ethic is admirable. I expect big things for Sergio on and off the field because of the person he is.” Sergio Gonzalez is a quiet and humble kid who is always ready to play soccer! 

Saturday, June 10

Dallas City FC vs. Demize NPSL-POSTPONED

Dallas City FC posted a notice on its Facebook page June 9 that announced, due to weather, that the Saturday game has been postponed.

Dutch Lions FC-3   Ft. Worth Vaqueros-1

Three second half Dutch Lions FC goals offset the 26th minute opener by the Vaqueros Hilton Ngwa to win in Conroe last night.  Midfielder Jerry Scholman scored in the 49th minute and then put the game away when he scored in the 79th.  The other Dutch Lions goal was scored by forward Jose Pablo Covarrubias on a penalty.  The Dutch Lions dominated the second half and almost scored twice right after the break, before breaking through on Scholman’s first.

Vaqueros assistant Greer Chavez, who deputized for the absent head coach Nick Stavrou had this to say on the Ft. Worth website after the match:

“This was a tough loss. We came out strong and controlled the game in the first half,” Vaqueros assistant Greer Chavez said. “Glad to see Hilton Ngwa get on the scoresheet. They started faster in the second half and we just made too many mistakes in the back. We had chances throughout the game but couldn’t put them away. 

Pregame lineup photo and images from Dutch Lions FC Twitter feed

Houston Regals SCA-3    Tyler FC-0  

Behind a brace by Diego De la Cruz and a goal from Hector Balandran Regals SCA shutout Tyler FC at KIPP High School stadium in Houston.

Shreveport Rafters FC-1   Midland-Odessa FC Sockers-2

The Sockers won the second away game of the week, despite playing shorthanded for close to a half hour, when they defeated the Rafters 2-1 in Shreveport last night.  Zach Penner, after picking up two yellow cards in a little more than 10 minutes, was sent off in the 63 minute, with the Sockers leading 1-0 at the time off a James O’Grady 21st minute goal.  The Rafters leveled the game when an unfortunate 72nd minute goalkeeper clearance hit a Sockers player and created an easy opportunity for the Rafters.  Despite the challenge, the Sockers were fortunate to get the game winner in the 87th minute when Midland capitalized on a direct kick opportunity and Hamish Ritchie broke the deadlock.

STANDINGS:

South Conference -Lonestar Division

1 Midland-Odessa FC 6 5 1 0 15 13 4 9 2.5
2 Fort Worth Vaqueros 6 4 2 0 12 10 7 3 2
3 Dutch Lions FC 4 2 1 1 7 9 7 2 1.75
4 Houston Regals SCA 5 2 2 1 7 7 8 -1 1.4
5 Shreveport Rafters FC 5 1 4 0 3 7 10 -3 0.6
6 Tyler FC 6 0 4 2 2 2 12 -10 0.3333

South Conference-Heartland Division

1 FC Wichita 5 4 0 1 13 16 9 7 2.6
2 Little Rock Rangers 6 2 0 4 10 10 8 2 1.6667
3 Tulsa Athletic 5 2 2 1 7 16 9 7 1.4
4 Dallas City FC 5 2 2 1 7 10 8 2 1.4
5 Demize NPSL 4 1 2 1 4 7 7 0 1
6 Ozark FC 5 0 5 0 0 7 25 -18 0

Week 7 Game Schedule: (Home Team Listed First)

Thursday, June 15

Dutch Lions FC vs. Midland-Odessa FC

Saturday, June 17

Dallas City FC vs. Ozark FC

Dutch Lions FC vs. Tyler FC

Houston Regals SCA vs. Midland-Odessa FC

Ft. Worth Vaqueros vs. Shreveport Rafters FC

 

NPSL logos courtesy of ChrisCreamer’sSportsLogos.Net

http://www.sportslogos.net/index.php

Texas Premier Development League (PDL) Recap-Week 6

 

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Texas PDL news:

The first PDL player from a Texas team, midfielder Rimario Gordon of Brazos Valley FC, was named to the USL PDL Top-50 Prospects list, entering this week at #41. Gordon comes to the Cavalry FC from Marshall University.  Gordon, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, was named to the All-Conference USA second team last season.

Week 6 Game Results:

Monday, June 5

Brazos Valley Cavalry-4   Texas United-3

The Cavalry scored 3 of the 5 total goals scored in the second half to win an exciting first ever home game at Nutrabolt Stadium in Brazos Monday night.  Emmanuel Usen scored the historic first goal at the stadium and the most highly regarded youth player in the Dynamo Academy, 16 year old Marcelo Palomino, scored twice on his debut with the Cavalry.  Texas United goals came from a brace by Miguel Velasquez and Nenad Markovic

Friday the horse joins Diesel and Toro as part of the Dynamo family. (Cavalry Twitter page)

Thursday, June 8

Brazos Valley Cavalry-2    Houston FC-0

Out-shooting Houston FC 21-4 on the night, the Cavalry were able to score twice to win their second consecutive game in Bryan Thursday night.  Rimario Gordon was involved in both goals-scoring the first and assisting on the second by Josue Palomino , started by Gordon with one of the 12 corner kicks generated by Brazos Valley.  In the game article by Brad Cox in the Bryan Eagle, Cavalry head coach and Dynamo Academy Director James Clarkson talked about the challenges of playing 3 games in 6 days:

“I think the scoreline flatters the other team a little bit,” Cavalry FC coach James Clarkson said. “We’ve got to be more clinical in front of the goal because if we could have put the game away earlier, I could have given them some more rest and it would have put us in better shape for Saturday. I’m really happy with the win but a bit little disappointed with our finishing and the wasted chances in front of the goal.” 

Cavalry starting lineup (Brazos Valley Twitter page)

Friday, June 9

FC Cleburne-2    Mississippi Brilla-0

Goals by Stefan Lukic (on his PDL debut) and the second goal of the season, by Chris Escalera, led FC Cleburne to its second win of the season, a 2-0 victory over Mississippi Brilla on the first of its two-game weekend road trip to Texas.  Esclara’s goal in the 82nd minute was a penalty that put the game away (below). Goalkeeper Casey Tilley was busy on the evening and had to make 5 saves to keep the clean sheet.

More fan photos from The Depot in Cleburne (FC Cleburne Facebook page)

Photo of The Depot in Cleburne (Brilla Twitter page)

Saturday, June 10

OKC Energy U23-3    Brazos Valley Cavalry-0

Three games in six days was too much for the Cavalry in Oklahoma Saturday afternoon. Going deep in it’s roster (only 5 played the entire game), the Cavalry were able to hold off the undefeated Energy U23 for close to an hour before conceding.  The final two goals from the Energy came after the 80th minute.

Below is a link to the Energy U23 game review:

http://www.energyfc.com/news_article/show/802251?referrer_id=2614758

Sunday, June 11

Texas United-0    Mississippi Brilla-1

Texas United suffered a tough 1-0 defeat to Brilla yesterday afternoon in Grand Prairie. A 26th minute red card to the team’s 2017 leading goal scorer Miguel Velasquez for a dangerous tackle forced United to play a man down for slightly less than an hour. Despite the challenge, United was only beaten by a strike from Brilla midfielder Thibaut Bourrier late in the first half.  United goalkeeper Adam Zehme saved 5 of the 7 Brilla shots, keeping the team in the game until the end.

Texas United starting lineup (Texas United Twitter page)

Texas United starting lineup (Texas United Twitter page)

STANDINGS:

Southern Conference-Mid South Division

Team GP W L T PTS GF GA +/-
OKC Energy U23 7 7 0 0 21 18 5 13
Mississippi Brilla FC 6 4 2 0 12 8 6 2
Texas United 6 2 4 0 6 10 11 -1
Brazos Valley Cavalry F.C. 5 2 3 0 6 8 10 -2
FC Cleburne 6 2 4 0 6 9 14 -5
Houston FC 5 1 4 0 3 6 11 -5


Week 7 Game Schedule: (Home Team Listed First)

Thursday, June 15

Texas United vs. Brazos Valley Cavalry FC

Houston FC vs. OKC Energy U23

Saturday, June 17

Houston FC vs. Texas United

Mississippi Brilla vs. FC Cleburne

Brazos Valley Cavalry FC vs. OKC Energy U23

 

NPSL logos courtesy of ChrisCreamer’sSportsLogos.Net

http://www.sportslogos.net/index.php

USL Week 12 Recap

Mixed results for the two Texas USL sides as Rio Grande Valley FC beat Seattle 3-1 in Edinburg and SAFC tied OKC Energy on the road last night.

Rio Grande Valley FC-3    Seattle Sounders 2-1

RGV FC:  Jorginho James-16, Ruben Luna-62 (TJ Casner), Ivan Magalhaes-65 (Emilio Garcia)  S2: Riley Grant-45+2  (Ray Saari)

Two Observations

MLS loaned players seem to be a mixed blessing

Last Wednesday night the Dynamo sent reinforcements to Reno to help RGV FC play their second game in 4 days.  They lost 3-2 and blew two leads on the evening.  In this game, partially because of the MLS break, Seattle Sounders sent 5 of their first team rostered players to Edinburg to get minutes (including two who also played against the Dynamo last Sunday). So they then lose 3-1.  For the first time this season the Toros had no loan Dynamo players and scored 3 goals.  Go figure.  I also remember a game the Toros played against Swope Park Rangers in Kansas City last summer when a similar MLS break allowed the Rangers to field a virtually all MLS rostered players side.  The Toros won convincingly.  It makes you wonder whether the disruption caused by new players dropping in and out, no matter how talented, is more harmful than good for the USL sides.  I recognize that the USL teams that are owned or managed by MLS franchises have different expectations and goals than independent USL teams.  As the USL matures and grows, these contradictions are going to play out in fascinating ways in the future.

Jorginho James’s goal was stunning and will be hard to top for USL Goal of the Week or even the Month

0:15 into the game highlight video (from USL website) below:

 

OKC Energy-0    San Antonio FC (SAFC)-0

OKC:  NONE    SAFC:  NONE

Two Observations

The Good

SAFC is still undefeated, even if the chance to set a USL record with six consecutive road wins was lost last night.  Seven consecutive USL shutouts (eight if you count the U.S. Open Cup match they lost on penalties).  Billy Forbes almost pulled out a late game winner when his 86th minute shot, off one of his patented runs where he beat two defenders, just slid past the far post.

The Bad 

Three goals in six league matches.  Cesar Elizando going back on the injury report doesn’t help this scoring drought.  The old adage about winning at home and tying on the road to win championships only applies if (1) you win at home which hasn’t happened lately, and (2) your opposition, in the form of Real Monarchs, doesn’t win eight games in a row.  Real has now pulled two points clear of SAFC in the standings.

Image courtesy of USL Website and Steven Christy / OKC Energy FC

Game highlights from the USL Website:

MLS Week 15 Recap

Portland Timbers-2   FC Dallas (FCD)-0 

PORT:  Adi-32 (Blanco), 72 (Asprilla, Valeri)    FCD:  NONE

Two Observations

A tough road

FC Dallas was short-handed due to international call-ups and injuries. Beating the Timbers in Portland is hard enough when a full roster is present, extremely hard if you don’t and next to impossible if you fall behind.  The game winner scored by Fernando Adi was unfortunate because it all began off a ricochet pass from Carlos Gruezo that allowed Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco to get behind the midfield and initiate the break that was ultimately finished by Adi.  There was no luck involved in the second goal. The build up and execution left the FCD defense in shambles and allowed a wide open Adi to play with Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez before he tapped the ball in.

It could have been a lot worse

Shortly before Adi’s second goal put the game away, Diego Valeri scored a stunning goal that, if not disallowed because of a mythical hand ball, would have been in the running for MLS Goal of the Year.  Unlike the Dynamo, who were run off the field in Portland during the second half in week 3, FCD overcame the obstacles to a great extent and accounted itself well in this game  The best thing FCD can do is put this game in the rear view mirror and prepare for the midweek US Open Cup match against Tulsa in Dallas. Dallas is going through a tough patch now and the old adage about “long season” certainly does apply.

Match highlights are below.  Valeri’s disallowed goal starts at 2:05:

https://www.mlssoccer.com/iframe-video?ooyala_id=J0NWJqYjE6UU0_md2aZiJcoV2ZilZVmH&partner_code=I1djcxOsLrwl8b-9xe2r_DCXV4cV&player_id=4bfc225f82bf46c48dfb065eda97f74f

Weekly Soccer Notes-June 10, 2017

Other news of interest in Texas Soccer this week:

Major League Soccer (MLS):

Bleacher Report’s Noah Davis wrote an excellent long-form piece on former Dynamo defender/midfielder and sometimes forward Geoff Cameron.  He used the word “unheralded” to describe Cameron’s arrival in Houston and that is true.  He joined the team as a third round MLS Super Draft choice in 2008 and in this article Dynamo head coach at the time, Dominic Kinnear, admitted about Cameron’s pick “It was a gamble” .  It didn’t take Dynamo supporters long to consider him heralded.  He scored on his home debut against FC Dallas and was in the starting lineup for the second-leg of a CONCACAF Champions Cup match (predecessor to the current CCL) in Costa Rica early in his rookie season. Now he is one of the top American exports to the English Premier League.

The link to the story is below: (bleacherreport.com)

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2714430-geoff-camerons-rise-from-unheralded-youngster-to-usmnt-star

CONCACAF Gold Cup:

  • The biennial CONCACAF Gold Cup will be held in the United States from July 7-26. The U.S. submitted a provisional 40 man roster to the Confederation last week…this roster needs to be reduced to 23 by June 27th. Players from Texas teams, or those that are Texas-natives, named to the preliminary roster include:

Defenders:  Greg Garza (Atlanta United), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca, Mexico),  Matt Hedges (FC Dallas)

Midfielders:  Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas)

Goalkeeper:  Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas)

U.S. born Gonzalez had previously announced his intention to play for Mexico, since he is a dual-national and has represented Mexico in youth tournaments. According to an article on mlssoccer.com, Fox Sports analyst and former Houston Dynamo Stuart Holden reported that he had recently spoken to Gonzalez’s agent, who said Gonzalez would accept the call if he is selected for the US 23-man roster for the Gold Cup. (mlssoccer.com)

  • Other CONCACAF counties also released their provisional rosters.  Players with current Texas connections include: (mlssoccer.com)

Canada:  Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas)

Honduras:  Maynor Figueroa (FC Dallas), Alberth Elis, Boniek Garcia and Rommel Quioto (Houston Dynamo)

Mexico:  Erick Torres (Houston Dynamo)

Panama:  Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo)

  • The CONCACAF website featured an interview with former Dynamo legend Dwayne DeRosario who played for Canada in five Gold Cups before his retirement in 2015. Here is a link to the interview: (concacaf.com)

http://www.concacaf.com/article/concacaf-qa-dwayne-de-rosario-retired-canada

National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL):

The Houston Dash were held scoreless for the second consecutive week, losing 2-0 to the Washington Spirit at the Maryland SoccerPlex last Saturday. Though held scoreless, the Dash forced eight saves from the Spirit goalkeeper.  With the loss, the Dash fell into last place in the league (2-6-0 and 6 points from 8 games).  The Dash now have a week off before their next match against Orlando on June 17th.  It is likely that a new permanent coach will be named at some point during the break, to replace Randy Waldrum who was fired two weeks ago. (houstondynamo.com)

United States Youth National Teams:

36 players have been called into the U.S. Under-15 Girls’ National Team training camp in Portland, Oregon, from June 11-18.  Four Texas players will participate in this camp, three from the North Texas Solar Chelsea club…midfielder Olivia Pena (Irving) and forwards Trinity Byars (Richardson) and Alexis Missimo (Southlake).  Goalkeeper Azul Alvarez (Lonestar SC; Round Rock) rounds out the Texas group.

Youth Soccer Development:

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs will take place June 22-26 in Westfield, Indiana (a suburb of Indianapolis). The Academy conducted its 2016-17 Playoff draw on Wednesday, with the qualified U-15/16 and U-17/18 teams drawn into eight groups of four teams each.

  • FC Dallas, the defending champions at both age levels, was one of 23 club programs to qualify teams for the 2017 playoffs at both age levels.  At the lower age level, FCD has been grouped with Crew SC Academy Wolves, New York City FC and Baltimore Armour.  The older group will face New York Red Bulls, Seattle Sounders FC and Beachside Soccer Club in the group Stage.  The game against Red Bulls will be one of the marquee match-ups of the group stage.
  • The Houston Dynamo qualified a team at the U 15/16 level and face an all MLS group stage bracket, the first time this has happened in the Academy playoffs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, LA Galaxy, Philadelphia Union join the Dynamo in what will certainly be a challenging group.

Further details can be found in the link below:  (ussoccer.com)

http://www.ussoccer.com/stories/2017/06/08/21/32/20170608-news-group-pairings-announced-for-2017-us-soccer-development-academy-playoffs