Houston Dynamo Flashback Series: Charities Cup 2009 – The Brawl

In early 2009, the Houston Dynamo announced that they would have an annual summer friendly match against an international opponent in the newly minted Houston Dynamo Charities Cup. Proceeds from the match would go to help a local charity in need, and the players would get valuable experience against different formations, tactics and international talent not usually seen in Major League Soccer. It also allowed fans from other teams to come experience the Houston Dynamo who might not have done so before.

It was, and still is, a fantastic idea and just another in a long line of ways in which the Dynamo organization tries to give back to the city. The first opponent for this newly minted match was CF Monterrey from La Liga MX. Monterrey is a very popular club in Texas since it sits right across the border. A lot of their fans have recently lived there, or travel back regularly so it made a lot of sense to bring these fans to Robertson Stadium. Also the game would garner a lot of press with the local, international, and Spanish-speaking media which was great for the 4 year old club.

This Monterrey squad was stacked across the board. Humberto Suazo, Aldo de Nigris, Dulio Davino and Jonathan Orozco were some of the highlights of this squad. They would later go on to win the Apertura season that fall and the following year, as well as three straight CONCACAF Champions League titles starting with the 2010-2011 edition. This club was on the path to great things.

Both sides trotted out mixed squads, not wanting to exhaust their starters in a friendly match. Still, there was plenty of talent left on the field for fans to enjoy. For the Dynamo, fans got to see backup goalkeeper Tally Hall, striker Luis Angel Landin, John Michael Hayden and Erick Ustruk alongside regulars like Wade Barrett, Brad Davis and Craig Waibel. While definitely leaning towards youth, the squad had talent.

The match started off with Monterrey looking far more dangerous, testing Tally Hall repeatedly from distance, such as in the 5′ when Tally deflected a hard, low shot from the far side of the pitch, which he was lucky to have been poached wide instead of into the net. Another bomb came in the 29′ which Hall smartly deflected high and wide off the post. In fact, Monterrey would dominate the remainder of the half, only giving the Dynamo a half chance in the 39′ off a set piece from the near side that was sent in wonderfully but deflected wide of the post in the ensuing chaos.

Fans were noticeably worried after the referee blew his whistle, wondering if the 2nd half would bring more of the same and see their Dynamo get steamrolled. 

Well, that didn’t happen but something else did that was awesome and fun.

The 63′ saw the Dynamo taking a corner kick from the far side, and youngster John Michael Hayden stood over the ball. He whipped in a cross which easily found the head of sophomore-year player Geoff Cameron, who made no mistake in redirecting it towards the side netting for a goal. His celebration was classic, doing the Bunny Hop. The stadium erupted into a yell of relief. Before that goal, the Dynamo had started to turn things around, but hadn’t been rewarded for their efforts until nearly 20 minutes in.

Before we move on, it should be noted that the game was very chippy, with tackles coming fast and hard. Corey Ashe had left the game in the first half due to an injury from de Nigris (which saw him draw a yellow). By the time the goal came around, there were 3 yellow cards. The match hadn’t gotten away from the referee yet, but it was balanced on a needle.

Then comes the 69′ which saw Eddie Robinson come in for a crunching tackle. The ref blew his whistle and went to pull his card (a yellow) but words were quickly exchanged by Robinson and the Monterrey players. A shoving match started which, to the ref’s credit he tried to break up, when all hell broke loose. One of the staff members from Monterrey ran onto the field and got into a fight with some of the Dynamo players. Both benches cleared out and security rushed onto the field.

A brawl erupted in the middle of the pitch with calmer players and staff from both sides trying to break it up while others, again from both sides, were just having at it. Eventually security was able to break the whole thing up….until the ref started pulling out his red card. It looked like, for a moment, he just held it up in the air and started pointing out players, as if to say, “A red card for you, you and you and a red card for everyone!” Four red card ejections (Eddie from the Dynamo and 3 Monterrey players), plus many of the technical staff from both benches also ejected, later the game resumed.

Monterrey tied it up with a goal from Jesus Zavala with a header over Wade Barrett in the 82′ but the Dynamo retook the lead, for good, just three minutes later. Craig Waibel sent a left-footed cross into the box which Oduro cleanly sent into the box for the win.

Really, though, no one remembers that. They remember that bench-clearing brawl, which can be found below.