The US women’s natonal team kicks off 2020 CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tonight at BBVA Stadium. The World Cup champs face Haiti at 7:30 pm, following the Costa Rice-Panama fixture at 5 pm. Tonight’s USWNT game will mark the ninth time the team has played in Houston and the sixth time they’ve played at BBVA, the home of the Houston Dash & Dynamo. The game is also the first competitive game (non-friendly) for new USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski. Below are highlights from previous USWNT games in Houston.
As part of the preparation for the first-ever women’s Olympic soccer tournament, the USWNT played two friendlies in Texas against Sweden in February 1996. The second of the two fixtures was played at Clyde Abshier Stadium in Deer Park (southeast Houston suburb), and the Americans won 3-0 thanks to goals from Tisha Venturini, Tiffeny Milbrett and Cindy Parlow (currently Vice President of US Soccer). A total 2,865 fans made it to the game — and considering the largest home crowd to watch the USWNT at that point was fewer than 9,000 fans, that wasn’t a bad start for women’s soccer fans in Houston.
The American squad returned to Houston after the next Olympic tournament as part of a 3-game friendly series. The match versus Mexico was played at Robertson Stadium (the former University of Houston football venue that later served as the first home for the Houston Dynamo) in December 2000. More than 11,000 fans watched Mexico score its first-ever goals against the USWNT (with a teenaged Hope Solo in goal) before two late goals from Cindy Parlow set the final score at 3-2.
The Americans returned to Houston for a post-Olympic friendly in 2004, this time as gold medalists. The Olympic champions faced Ireland at the then-newish Reliant Stadium (later rebranded as NRG Stadium) in front of nearly 17,000 fans and Abby Wambach scored all five goals in the 5-0 win (four of the five were assisted by Mia Hamm). Wambach’s 5-goal game marked just the fourth time in USWNT history that a player scored that many goals in one game.
The next time time the US women came to Houston, they played in the new soccer-specific BBVA Compass Stadium for the first time. Once again, the match was part of a post-Olympic tour. The team defeated China 4-0 as Abby Wambach recorded her 150th international goal. At the time Jill Ellis was serving as interim head coach as Pia Sundhage had already departed for a new gig, and Tom Sermanni had yet to take over as USWNT head coach.
CONCACAF’s women’s Olympic qualifying tournament came to the USA for the first time in 2016. Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium hosted all group stage games for Canada’s group as well as the tournament semifinals and final. In the group game versus Trinidad & Tobago, Canadian legend Christine Sinclair scored her 159th international goal to pass Mia Hamm for second place on the all-time int’l goalscoring chart (and it’s likely she’ll pass Wambach for the all-time record during this year’s tourney). In the US semifinal versus Trinidad & Tobago, Alex Morgan recorded a hat trick to lead the team to a 5-0 win and a berth in the 2016 Olympics.
The next year, the US women played two April friendlies in Texas versus Russia, first in Frisco, then in Houston. In the 5-1 win at BBVA Stadium, Rose Lavelle scored her first international goal, Crystal Dunn netted a brace and Jane Campbell earned her first cap in goal as a late sub for Ashlyn Harris.
In the USWNT’s most recent appearance in Houston, the crowd of 15,000+ fans was treated to 8 goals in the team’s 6-2 win over CONCACAF rival Mexico. Carli Lloyd scored her 100th international goal to give the USA a 3-2 lead, Alex Morgan netted a brace and three youngsters earned their first caps – Haley Hanson, Hailie Mace and Tegan McGrady.