By: Steven Kerscher
On the eve of one of the biggest games in recent CONCACAF history between the United States and Mexico, there was an MLS team and a Liga MX team looking to do good together.
The Houston Dynamo were to host reigning Liga MX champions Santos Laguna in their annual Dynamo Charities cup at BBVA Compass Stadium. Seems fitting because Santos does charity work in cities where the team plays its away games and has done so for several years. The program is called Guerreros de Corazon, Warriors from the Heart. It has only just started to do such work in the United States but apparently it's very active in Mexico.
For the Dynamo, it was an all around success for both charity and the team's confidence heading into its final home game, against the Seattle Sounders on October 18 because the hosts walked away with a trophy and a 4-0 win thanks to goals by Mauro Manotas and Chandler Hoffman.
The Mexican visitors didn't use only the game as its excuse to do good in another city away from its home in Torreon, Mexico. The Dynamo, who are highly active in MLS' charity campaign MLS Works, collaborated with Los Guerreros in a community event at Houston Street Soccer the day before, regardless of the fact that the two would be rivals on the field only one day later.
The friendly match was the first meeting between the Dynamo and Santos Laguna since the reigning Liga MX champions defeated Houston in the 2013 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
While this game was dramatically different in that Houston defeated the team which started with many of the same players who won the Liga MX title only five months prior, the main objectives were one - find a way to best utilize the FIFA date, and two - do good in the name of charity. Both objectives were met while showing us that despite Mexico and the USA being such heated rivals, they can come together to do a world of good.
Javier Orozco, who won the 2015 Gold Cup with Mexico, was one of the headliners of the charity event, which was designed to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Houston. Also in attendance were Santos goalkeeper Julio Gonzalez and Jose Javier Abella. For the Dynamo, defender Kofi Sarkodie and Raul Rodriguez, who played a full 90 minutes in the game for the Orange Crush, joined in.
“I think the fact that we could do something like this with an MLS team is very important,” said Abella, a member of Mexico's under-22 team, in a press release from the club.
“We enjoyed playing with the kids so we can teach them the strategy of the game and what it means to be a good sport, and hopefully they can apply a lot of the things we did to their lives.”
Los Guerreros were the Dynamo's seventh international opponent for the Charities Cup, which in the past has included Monterrey (Houston win, 2-1), Aguila of El Salvador (Houston win, 4-0), Bolton Wanderers (Houston loss, 0-2), Valencia (Houston loss, 1-2), Stoke City (Houston win, 2-1), and Aston Villa (Houston loss, 0-1).
Check out some photos of the event below, courtesy of Club Santos Laguna.