While most of Major League Soccer breaks for a FIFA international fixture date this weekend, there will be Labor Day soccer in Houston, as the Dynamo host 2010 Mexican Apertura and CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey on Sunday night (8 p.m., buy tickets).
This is the second meeting between the two; they first met in a physical 2009 Dynamo Charities Cup match that saw Houston come out on top 2-1 (read recap). Now the clubs are hoping that the match will lead to a spirited friendship.
“As we look to grow as an organization and as a league, as a club I think it's important for us to establish relationships with other clubs in other countries,” Dynamo president of business operations Chris Canetti said.
Canetti speaks from experience, as the Dynamo are no stranger to building a clasico with a Mexican counterpart. During the last four years, the Dynamo have contested a series of heated and competitive battles with Mexican stalwart Pachuca. The clubs met over the years in both CONCACAF and SuperLiga play, and a number of those battles rank as some of the most exciting matches in Dynamo history.
Now Monterrey is looking to enter into a similar relationship. Officials from both clubs are dedicated to creating a friendly, but competitive relationship as the clubs intend to play on a regular basis, including a potential return trip for Houston to Monterrey.
The clubs have already met twice this year, once each at the youth and reserve/U-20 level. The Monterrey U-17s edged Houston 1-0 on July 5, and the Dynamo Reserves answered back with a 3-1 win over the Monterrey U-20s on July 10.
The hope is that as the fans and teams become more familiar, a competitive relationship will blossom. Just don’t call it a rivalry.
“The idea isn’t to create a rivalry, but a derby that’s very heated and exciting,” Monterrey sporting president Luis Miguel Salvador told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “It’s not so much a rivalry, because that term carries a negative connotation. We’re looking to develop a derby with the Dynamo as the team that plays them with the most frequency and obviously everything else that comes with it.”
Regardless of the name, the clubs are looking to build on what is becoming an intense competition between MLS and Mexican clubs. With the recent CONCACAF Champions League success – both FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders have broken through with competitive wins on Mexican soil this month – the Dynamo and Monterrey have the opportunity to build the next big international clásico.
“As our league gains equality with the Mexican league with FC Dallas’ and Seattle Sounders’ win in Champions League play, you can’t underestimate what it means for our league to compete internationally,” Canetti said. “There’s definitely a rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico, but there’s some collaboration going as we try to grow the sport. It’s important that we establish relationships there, because there are plenty of benefits for what we want to do.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.