MLS This Week: Hurricanes, fires prompt MLS teams to act
Supplies were piled high at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston as Texans dropped off cases of water, bedding and clothes at the loading dock.
Employees and players of the soccer stadium’s tenants, the Dynamo and Dash, pitched in to collect donations for victims of Hurricane Harvey. The two teams also joined with Major League Soccer in pledging more than $1 million to relief efforts.
The hurricane made landfall on Texas’ southeastern coast on Aug. 25, dumping record amounts of rain. The slow-moving storm caused widespread flooding and more than 60 people died.
”In this sport we have the possibility to bring the people together, and it is important at this moment that we’re going to fight for our city. We’re going to fight for our fans, we’re going to fight to bring them joy and help the healing of the people of Houston,” Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera said in a recorded message to fans.
The Dynamo’s match against Sporting Kansas City, originally set for Aug. 26, was moved to Oct. 11 at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League postponed their match the next night against the North Carolina Courage. The game has not been rescheduled.
Both teams trained in the Dallas area in the aftermath of the hurricane.
The Dash played their first game since the Hurricane on Sunday, falling 1-0 to the visiting Seattle Reign in Frisco. Proceeds from the ticket sales went to hurricane relief efforts.
Janine Beckie, a forward with the Canadian national team who went to Texas Tech and now plays for the Dash, set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for the relief fund created by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in partnership with the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
Dynamo defender A.J. DeLaGarza posted video of the floodwaters inching toward his home.
”Another sleepless night. Praying for those already in floods and hoping this rain stops. Much love H-Town,” DeLaGarza wrote.
The Dynamo will host the first match at BBVA Compass Stadium since the hurricane on Saturday night against the Colorado Rapids. All proceeds will go toward relief and rebuilding.
The Kroenke family, owners of the Rapids – and several other professional sports teams – announced a $1 million donation to the Red Cross on Wednesday. The team planned to arrive in Houston on Friday with even more.
”Ultimately, we want to do whatever we can to help. Our traveling staff will be looking for relief projects to be a part of, and the players are bringing with them all sorts of goods like diapers, baby food, formula, waters, clothes, toys and other helpful household items that will hopefully be of service to families in need,” club spokesman Ryan Madden said.
Harvey is not the only natural disaster that has prompted soccer to lend a hand. Wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and the potential threat of Hurricane Irma on the East Coast, as well as Harvey relief, brought Portland’s professional sports teams together.
The Timbers of MLS, the NWSL’s Thorns, the NBA’s Trail Blazers, the WHL’s Winterhawks and Single-A baseball’s Hillsboro Hops are sponsoring Red Cross blood drives this week. Additional fundraisers are in the works.
In Florida, the NWSL match between the Pride and the Reign was pushed up from Saturday to Thursday night at Orlando City Stadium. At least one Seattle player was concerned.
”Being in Orlando isn’t safe, it’s scary & I can’t help but feel that the number 1 priority should be us getting out of here now,” Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock posted to Twitter.
Reign teammate Megan Rapinoe added : ”For (at)ORLPride players they should focus on keeping themselves and their homes and loved ones safe. For us, we should go home. (at)NWSL.”
GAME OF THE WEEK: In addition to the emotional match between the Dynamo and Rapids, Atlanta United will host FC Dallas in the team’s first game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The multi-purpose stadium, which will also be home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, seats some 42,000 for soccer and about 71,000 for football. The United have been drawing an average of more than 40,000 fans a game in their first MLS season.
Atlanta has won six games in Georgia so far this season. FC Dallas have been winless in seven straight games overall.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Much of MLS was off for the international break, but New England’s Kei Kamara was busy scoring his first career hat trick Saturday against Orlando City. The Revolution striker had the first three goals in the team’s 4-0 victory.
”Every ball was just going into the back of the net,” Kamara told reporters afterward. ”It was just like `Wow, it feels like a special day today.”’
The only thing that didn’t go right was Kamara’s ”skateboard grind” for a celebration .
ANOTHER MILESTONE: In the same game that Kamara scored his hat trick, midfielder Lee Nguyen tied the MLS single-game record with four assists, becoming the fifth player to reach the milestone.
Nguyen has 14 assists this year, most in MLS this season with Toronto’s Victor Vazquez.