The history of soccer in Houston
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.