If things fall into place, the Houston Dynamo could host a World Cup reunion of sorts in July, as English Premier League club Aston Villa have committed to participating in the BBVA Compass Dynamo Charities Cup on Saturday, July 26.
Prior to facing Houston, Aston Villa will take on FC Dallas in a friendly at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday, July 23.
The game in Houston could feature at least four players from the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Boniek García (Honduras) and Brad Guzan (United States) are locks for their respective rosters, while Brad Davis and Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke (Belgium) could also make the tournament.
There is no guarantee those players will be in uniform for the World Cup or the Charities Cup, as some clubs will surely rest stars after the event, but even the possibility brings a chance for unique excitement.
“It’s always good to have that star appeal,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “That would be great, and I hope that happens. You always look at things like that and hope they occur, but you can’t always control things like that. Ideally, these players will show well at the World Cup and will come here and play well.”
Bringing the Villans to Houston marks the third time an EPL opponent will clash with the Dynamo – Houston lost to Bolton Wanderers 2-0 in 2011 but beat Stoke City 2-0 last year. Currently 12th in the EPL standings, Aston Villa have several exciting players to bring stateside.
Guzan, the current No. 2 goalkeeper for the USMNT who began his career in MLS with Chivas USA (career statistics), will headline the trip and has blossomed into a quality custodian in the English top flight. Accompanying Guzan to both Texas venues will be stars such as Benteke, a young powerful striker, and quality players like midfielder Fabian Delph.
“They represent a quality English Premier League opponent who has been in very good form of late,” FC Dallas president Dan Hunt said in a club statement. “They are anchored by several players who will represent their respective countries in the 2014 World Cup. Obviously this will be a very competitive match, and we are excited to be able to bring this quality game to our fans.”
Rivals on the field, the two Texas clubs also shared a summer friendly opponent last year, when Stoke City beat FC Dallas 1-0.
In Houston, negotiations to find an opponent for the sixth Dynamo Charities Cup included factors such as cost and logistics, including availability, an especially important concern in a World Cup year.
“Every year, we engage in a worldwide search to try and a team that will be a good fit for the Dynamo Charities Cup,” Canetti said. “We talked to dozens of teams but ultimately narrowed it down based on a number of factors.
"Ultimately, as the pot shrunk, we started to zero in on Aston Villa, and everything lined up at the end. They have a strong history as an English Premier League side and carry a great tradition. We look forward to putting on a good match with them.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.