As a top-half English Premier League club, 2011 Dynamo Charities Cup opponent Bolton Wanderers is certainly among the most notable teams the Dynamo have ever faced, although Club America and Pachuca might have something to say about that. Nevertheless, we thought we would provide a few basic facts about the first European club the Dynamo have ever faced outside of a pre-season scrimmage.
These guys go way back. The club was formed in 1874 and assumed the name Bolton Wanderers in 1877. Yeah, that's right, EIGHTEEN 77. Wanderers was chosen as the nickname because the team had trouble establishing a permanent home stadium in its early years. Bolton was a founding member of the Football League in 1888, an organization that still exists just below the Premiership. Wanderers won the first FA Cup final played at Wembley Stadium in 1923 and have won four total FA Cup titles, the last coming in 1958.
One of Bolton's original greats was the late Nat Lofthouse, still Bolton's all-time goals leader with 285, while more recently such recognizable names as Jay-Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff, and Nicolas Anelka have represented Wanderers. Bolton first gained promotion to the English Premier League in 1995 and have been steady members since the 2001-02 season. Bolton finished in the top half of the EPL for four consecutive seasons from 2003-07 and is up there again at the moment.
Owen Coyle took over as Bolton manager in January 2010, moving from rivals Burnley, and has helped them move up the table with signings like the one that brought former Dynamo standout Stuart Holden to England. Like Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear, Coyle was born in Scotland but represented a different country internationally, having made one appearance for Ireland as a forward during his 22-year playing career. He began his managerial career with Scottish club St. Johnstone in 2005 and moved to Burnley in 2007.
While Holden is the most recognizable name to Houston fans and was one of Bolton's most influential players when healthy this season, Wanderers have plenty of other talent. Captain Kevin Davies has been at the club since 2003 and partners up top with Swedish international Johan Elmander, who has netted 10 goals in EPL play this year. Finnish goalkeeper Jussi Jääskeläinen has excelled with the club since 1997 and was cited recently by Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall as a backstop he enjoys watching. Other regulars include defenders Gary Cahill and Paul Robinson, and midfielders Fabrice Muamba, Martin Petrov, and Lee Chung-Yong.
The Dynamo Charities Cup is still in its infancy, but the Dynamo hope to continue to bring intriguing international clubs to Houston for the match each year. The tradition began in October 2009 with a contentious match against Mexican club Monterrey, with the Dynamo winning 2-1 on a late goal. In last year's second edition, played during the World Cup break, Houston blew away Salvadoran club Aguila 4-0. This year's game, set to be a mid-summer match on July 20, will provide a much sterner test and add prestige to the annual exhibition.