Who: Houston Dynamo vs. Pachuca
What: SuperLiga 2010, Group A, Match 1
When: Thursday, July 15, 7 pm CT
Where: Robertson Stadium, Houston
MLSsoccer.com & Superliga2010.com (English)
SportsTalk 790 (English)
La Ranchera 850 (Spanish)
The best international rivalry in North American club soccer renews itself for a fourth year when the Houston Dynamo host Pachuca Thursday night. Houston is 2-3-1 all-time against Pachuca and has finished behind the Tuzos in three of four tournaments, including last year's CONCACAF Champions League.
Both teams have had their successes in SuperLiga. Pachuca defeated Houston in the semifinals of the inaugural edition of Superliga in penalties before eventually winning the tournament. Houston returned the favor in 2008, defeating Pachuca in the semifinals on penalty kicks before falling to New England on penalties in the final.
Houston enters SuperLiga 2010 with giant question marks. The team is winless in league play since May 22 but earned ties in each of its last three league matches and has shown signs of turner the corner. A setback in form during SuperLiga, however, may undo some of that progress.
“We are at home for three games in a group setup, we should advance,” Dynamo defender Craig Waibel said. “There is no excuse not to advance, regardless of who is in our group.”
SuperLiga 2010 will provide the team its first opportunity to incorporate its newest acquisition, Ghanaian midfielder Anthony Obodai, into the team. The defensive midfielder played in two exhibitions for Houston while he was on trial, but the step up in competition here will go a long way in determining how much of an influence the former RKC Waalwijk player will have on Houston during the remainder of the 2010 season.
“We’ve played well in this tournament, and we and the fans enjoy the international competition it brings to Robertson Stadium,” coach Dominic Kinnear said. “The guys were happy we drew Pachuca just because we enjoy playing against them and enjoy the way they play.”
Pachuca enter Superliga 2010 with growing American influence - and popularity. The team recently added U.S. World Cup forward Herculez Gomez and Dallas-born Marco Vidal to go along with fellow American Jose Francisco Torres. Longview native Torres has slowly grown over the years with Pachuca from part-time contributor to regular starter, and MLS fans have had the opportunity to watch his development in the club's frequent matchups against domestic sides.
Last year, Gomez made the decision to leave MLS and ply his trade south of the border. The move turned out to be a perfect one for Gomez, as he caught fire for Puebla and became the first American to win a share of the Mexican league’s scoring title. In SuperLiga, however, Gomez will be looking to establish himself with his new team.
The Tuzos also recently added Vidal, clearly establishing Pachuca as the the go-to franchise in Mexico for American players. SuperLiga provides the Tuzos the opportunity to incporporate some of their new faces into the team prior to starting their upcoming season.