The Houston Dynamo are undoubtedly at the core of the soccer culture in Houston. Throughout the years, the team has brought its fans countless moments of excitement and joy. That being said, the Dynamo are not the only professional team that has light up the pitch in Space City.
With the recent announcement that the Premier League’s Manchester City and Liga MX’s Club América will face off in the 2022 Copa de Lone Star on Wednesday, July 20, at NRG Stadium, we wanted to look back on some of the biggest soccer matches hosted in Houston in recent history.
USA vs. Argentina Copa America Centenario Semifinal – June 21, 2016
Arguably the biggest men’s soccer game on American soil since the 1994 World Cup final, there was plenty of hype heading into this match. It is not often that you get to see the greatest player in the world, arguably the greatest player in history, playing against the U.S. Men’s National team in a competitive match.
While the game itself was lopsided, the sold-out crowd at NRG Stadium was still treated to plenty of action in the form of four goals scored, all by Argentina. The most notable of the goals came in the 32nd minute, when Lionel Messi netted a sublime free kick to become Argentina's all-time record goal-scorer.
FC Barcelona vs. Club América - Aug. 10, 2006
When Club América suits up to take on Pep Guardiola’s squad this summer, it will not actually be the first time that the LIGAMX giants take the field at NRG Stadium. Back in 2006, América took on FC Barcelona at the stadium in front of 70,550 fans as part of a doubleheader in which the Dynamo took on the Los Angeles Galaxy before the match between Barcelona and América.
That match was a tale of two halves, as forward Nelson Cuevas scored three times in the first 45 minutes for Club América. The second half was all Ronaldinho’s. The 2005 Ballon d’Or winner came on as a substitute in the 46th minute and made three extraordinary plays that resulted in three Barcelona goals in the final five minutes to finish the game 4-4.
Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinals – June 22, 2011
In 2011, Houston played host to the Gold Cup semifinals, a round of matches that featured two riveting games that each included late winners in front of a raucous crowd of 70,627.
The first match featured the United States taking on Panama. The US had previously lost to Panama in the group stage of the tournament. This game was deadlocked until the 77th minute, when Freddy Adu unleashed a long, slanting pass to Landon Donovan, who then found Clint Dempsey for the only goal of the match.
In the second match of the night, Mexico took on Guatemala, and went down early as El Tri allowed a goal to Carlos Ruiz in the fifth minute of the match. In the second half, Mexico’s Aldo De Negris tapped in the equalizer in the 48th minute before Chicharito scored his sixth goal in four games in the 66th minute to put Mexico on top.
USA vs. Mexico – Feb. 6, 2008
There is perhaps no bigger match in North American soccer than Mexico vs. USA. Because of the nature of this rivalry as well as Houston’s proximity to the border, there was never any doubt that when this match came to the Bayou City, even as a friendly, that it would be a massive match.
The game itself did not disappoint. Even though it was officially a friendly, there was no love lost between the two sides in this match. The two national teams played to a 2-2 draw in front of a sell-out crowd of 70,103 at Reliant Stadium.
Manchester United vs Manchester City – July 20, 2017
Ask any soccer fan about the Manchester Derby, and they should be able to tell you something about this historical matchup between English soccer giants. Houston holds a special place in the history of this rivalry that dates all the way back to 1881. On July 20, 2017, Space City played host to the first-ever Manchester derby played outside of England.
The match, which was part of the International Champions Cup, took place in front of 67,401 spectators and saw the Red Devils come out on top by a final score of 2-0.
Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid - July 20, 2019
The International Challenge Cup has been responsible for bringing a number of the world’s biggest soccer clubs to Houston. In 2019, the tournament featured a match between La Liga’s Real Madrid and Bundesliga’s Bayern Munich, arguably the largest teams in their respective countries.
There was ample excitement ahead of this match, and the game itself did not disappoint. Four goals were scored between the two clubs, with Bayern coming out on top 3-1 in the end.