Looking back

The history of soccer in Houston

Many big names have played on the pitch in Houston. Victor Araiza

It may not win the moniker “Soccer City, USA,” but Houston has grown into one of the hotbeds for big-time soccer events in the United States and is almost sure to host a World Cup match if the competition comes stateside anytime soon.

Houston is rich with soccer history. The earliest pro soccer franchise in the Bayou City dates back to 1967, and attendance records for matches continue to be shattered as the sport grows in the 21st century.

That being said, the casual fan probably doesn’t know about Houston soccer past, so we’ve compiled a list of the professional sports franchises that have called Space City home.

Houston Stars (1967-1968)

The Stars were the first pro soccer team in Houston. They played in the Astrodome and were owned by renowned Houstonian Roy Hofheinz, who, among his many titles, served as Texas state representative, Harris County judge and mayor of Houston.

The Stars averaged 19,802 fans during their inaugural season, the highest of any U.S. soccer team that year. They played in the United Soccer Association, one of two top-tiered leagues in the U.S. The leagues merged the following year to form the North American Soccer League in which the Stars played in 1968 before folding at the end of the season.

Houston Hurricane (1978-1980)

Driven by the arrival of Pele to North America, the Bayou City was again be represented in the North American Soccer League as the Houston Hurricane, one of four expansion teams during the 1978 season. The team called the Astrodome home and donned kits made up of red, white and orange. 

After a tough first year, the Hurricane won the NASL’s Central Division and finished with the league’s best record in its second season. Unfortunately, they would be one-and-done in the playoffs for two straight years before ending operations at the conclusion of their third season.

Houston Summit (1978-1979)

The Summit was an indoor soccer team that played their games at, well, you guessed it, the Summit. The team played in the Major Indoor Soccer League which operated during the NASL offseason. 

Many of the players on the Hurricane squad played on the Summit. After the Hurricane folded, the Summit ceased operations, as the franchise moved to Baltimore.

Houston Dynamos (1984-1991)

Houston tried the soccer experiment again in the mid-'80s with the creation of the Houston Dynamos (plural). The team was a member of the United Soccer League and played at Butler Stadium and Delmar Stadium. 

Unfortunately, the team’s first season was their only in the pros. The club chose not to return to the USL, which folded eight games into the 1985 season, and played friendlies for two years. In 1987 they joined the Lone Star Soccer Alliance, a regional league made up of Texas teams, where they played until their final season in 1991. 

Houston Hotshots (1994-2000)

The return of indoor soccer to the Summit meant a pro soccer team for Houston during the '90s. With the 1994 FIFA World Cup on the horizon and the upcoming founding of a new top division Major League Soccer, it was a big opportunity for Houston to showcase itself as a soccer city.

The Hotshots played in the Continental Indoor Soccer League (CISL) from 1994 to 1997, but, after the league folded, they moved to the World Indoor Soccer League in 1999. Unable to attract investors, the Hotshots closed their doors entering the new millennium. 

Houston Dynamo (2006-present)

After shattering local attendance records with club and international friendlies during the early 2000s, Houston had been clamoring to join MLS. Expansion in the league occurred gradually but an opportunity finally arose when the San Jose Earthquakes were unable to secure a stadium of their own.

With city officials offering a soccer-specific stadium, the Earthquakes roster migrated to Houston. The already built roster that had achieved the league’s best record the previous season was embraced in Houston and delivered back-to-back MLS Cup titles in its first two seasons.

In 2012, the team moved into a stadium of their own built east of downtown Houston known as BBVA Compass Stadium. Over the years, World Cup players have played for the club, and some of the world's best have come to visit.

Houston Dash (2014-present)

An extension by the Houston Dynamo into the women’s game, the Houston Dash are the only professional women’s team in any sport in the city of Houston. The club entered the National Women’s Soccer team in 2014 and plays matches at BBVA Compass Stadium.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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