FRISCO, Texas – Throughout its history, the Dallas-Fort Worth area has hosted its share of big games. Thursday’s visit by reigning UEFA Champions League winner Inter Milan has to rank up there with one of the biggest matches ever to be staged in the Metroplex.
Here’s part one of MLSsoccer.com’s top 10 of memorable matches staged locally:
10. November 12, 2006: Houston vs. New England (MLS Cup)
For the second straight year, Pizza Hut Park hosted the MLS championship game. This final matched the Houston Dynamo, who advanced to the title game in their inaugural season, against the New England Revolution, who had fallen to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2005 final, also held in Frisco.
On a cold Texas afternoon, this one was an all-out battle. Things remained scoreless until New England’s Taylor Twellman gave the Revs a 1-0 lead 113 minutes in. However, Houston’s Brian Ching drew things level just one minute later and the match was headed to penalty kicks. The Dynamo drained their first three chances while New England made just two.
As Houston’s fifth kicker, it fell to Ching to bring the Dynamo the title. He converted, setting off a raucous celebration from the numerous Houston fans in attendance. Some 22,427 supporters were on hand to witness this memorable clash.
9. July 27, 2009: Club América vs. Chelsea, Cowboys Stadium
Just eight days after hosting a pair of matches in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Cowboys Stadium hosted another high-profile soccer event as Mexican first-division giant Club América faced Chelsea FC of the English Premier League. More than 57,000 turned out for what was a very entertaining match.
These two legendary sides played scoreless soccer until the Blues finally broke through with about 15 minutes left as Franco di Santo scored to give Chelsea a 1-0 edge. Florent Malouda added an insurance tally two minutes later as the Blues left the Lone Star State with a 2-0 win over the Águilas. Among those in the first 11 for Chelsea was star midfielders Deco and Michael Essien.
8. August 6, 2005: FC Dallas vs. New York
After calling the Cotton Bowl and Dragon Stadium in Southlake home, FC Dallas finally had a place they could call their own with the opening of their own soccer-specific stadium in Frisco. The first game at Pizza Hut Park didn’t disappoint. FCD built a 2-0 lead by the break thanks to a pair of goals just three minutes apart by Carlos Ruiz.
New York wasn’t about to go quietly, though, as Youri Djorkaeff drew one back in the 47th, and the talented Frenchman also netted the equalizer six minutes later to deadlock things at two goals apiece. That’s how it finished, in a 2-2 draw. Since then, PHP has hosted a pair of MLS Cups, countless international matches, the NCAA Men’s College Cup and numerous other events.
7. April 14, 1996: Dallas vs. San Jose
The Dallas Burn began their inaugural season against the San Jose Earthquakes on April 14, 1996 at the Cotton Bowl. Nearly 28,000 fans were in attendance that Sunday at Fair Park. The Burn and Quakes played to a scoreless tie, but big-time professional soccer had returned to Big D in the form of MLS. The Burn’s first win came four days later as they blanked Kansas City 3-0 with Jason Kreis scoring the first goal in franchise history.
6. May 31, 2007: FC Dallas vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (SuperLiga)
This match at Pizza Hut Park was originally supposed to feature the Galaxy’s David Beckham, but the international superstar was injured and didn’t make the trip. But FCD and the Galaxy didn’t disappoint the 21,576 in attendance.
LA struck first when Alan Gordon found the back of the net just three minutes in, and by the time these sides headed to their locker rooms at the break, the visitors were ahead 4-1. Chris Klein had also scored in the 12th minute while Gordon added a second tally three minutes later and Kevin Harmse gave his club a fourth goal in the 18th minute.
A goal by FCD’s Arturo Alvarez two minutes before the half was the lone bright spot for the home side. It remained 4-1 until the 78th when Juan Toja drew one back for FCD to make it 4-2 and a second goal by Alvarez in the 84th cut LA’s cushion to just one goal. However, one minute later, Landon Donovan scored for the Galaxy to make it 5-3.
FCD’s Carlos Ruiz connected in the first minute of stoppage to make it 5-4, and there were two goals in the final minute of added time. LA’s Carlos Pavón scored in the 95th, only to see Abe Thompson match him a minute later. FCD lost 6-5 in what had to be one of the best finishes ever in DFW.
Check back on Wednesday for the top 5 matches played in the DFW area.