HOUSTON – The ninth edition of the BBVA Compass Dynamo Charities Cup — a friendly game that pits the Dynamo against an international opponent with a portion of the match’s proceeds donated to charity — took on new meaning in a post-Harvey Houston.
The proceeds from the Dynamo’s 5-3 loss against Liga MX giants Cruz Azul on Thursday will be donated to the Harvey Relief Fund established by Houston mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County judge Ed Emmet, who plan to use the proceeds to rebuild Houston and help those affected by the recent hurricane.
The weight of the game and its significance was not lost on Houston Dynamo president of business operations and Dynamo Charities president Chris Canetti.
“There’s no doubt that the Dynamo Charities Cup is an important game for the Dynamo and our community. But we said when we announced it that it would have a more important meaning this year as we try to raise money to support the Hurricane relief,” Canetti said. “It’s probably more meaningful than any of the first ones.”
Aside from being a meaningful bout, it’s also the first Charities Cup to be televised. Univision Deportes Network aired the match along with a small-sided special soccer celebrity match between Dynamo Legends and Univision Deportes All-Stars that precluded the cup match.
The Dynamo Legends — led by Brian Ching and fan favorites like Dwayne de Rosario — outlasted the All-Stars 5-2.
While the Dynamo Legends gave fans a winning feeling, Cruz Azul -- or ‘La Máquina’, as they’re widely known -- wanted no part in that and handed the Dynamo a 5-3 loss.
It was billed as a friendly but it turned into a highlight reel of world-class goals, including Dynamo defender Dylan Remick chipping the 'keeper from just outside the penalty area. Despite the defeat, Remick is glad the fans got to witness a fun game.
“It’s for a great cause. We are just trying to help the city in any way we can,” Remick said. “To play a game and get their minds off everything and trying to raise money, it’s phenomenal.”
The sentiment was shared by Cruz Azul star Christian ‘El Chaco’ Giménez, who called the game a beautiful showcase from both teams and the fans.
“But the most important thing is the reason behind this [game],” Gimenez said. “The game comes second when two institutions like the Dynamo and Cruz Azul come together to help the people.”
Even before the Charities Cup, the Dynamo Charities and BBVA had already donated $250,000 directly after Harvey. BBVA will match up to $250,000 more that it is raising from its customers and employees.
In the aftermath of Harvey, BBVA Compass Stadium opened its doors as a drop-off center as staff and volunteers accepted loads of donations. After five days, the stadium processed 1,200 pallets of food, clothes, and supplies to help those in need.
Ching, one of many former and current players who helped at the stadium when it was used as the donation center, said he was in awe of the locals and their generosity.
“I was inspired by Houstonians,” the Dynamo’s all-time leading scorer said. “Houstonians came out in a big way and helped each other out.”
One of those Houstonians was Dynamo account manager Julio Yerena. Yerena, along with family members, traveled the streets of Houston on a deep-sea fishing boat and helped evacuate 20 people who were taking on large quantities of floodwater or were stranded.
“In going to go help out a couple of people, there was other people out on the street who needed help too,” Yerena said. “We had people that would come and ask us for assistance and we’d end up helping them as well.”
The assists for the community weren’t limited to Dynamo staff and players.
The Texian Army, one of the Dynamo’s support groups, teamed up with the Dallas Beer Guardians, an FC Dallas supporters' group, and 210 Alliance, a support group for USL club San Antonio FC, to raise money and gather supplies for the relief efforts.
The three support groups crafted a t-shirt with the state of Texas and the words, ‘Enemies for 90. Texans for Life’ as a way to raise funds and show solidarity. The shirt could be bought in three colors, one representing each team.
“Many times we are not going to be fans of Dallas at all but there are certain times when you have to come together,” Wesley Henderson, a Texian Army board of directors member said. “And all Texans will come together. Everybody saw that on the national stage.”
Henderson added that Dallas Beer Guardians were the ones who approached the Texian Army about helping out, and got the ball rolling on the donation drive.
In total, the group estimates that close to $7,200 worth of donations were sent to the coastal region of Texas.
“It’s something that everyone bought into,” Henderson said. “For that little bit of time, you put your colors aside. We’re all Texans. We all look at that flag and we all bleed Texas colors.”