If you weren’t appraised, I’m high on the Rio Grande Valley as a purveyor of Good Soccer. It’s been an overlooked hotbed for years, and the Houston Dynamo’s establishment of a USL affiliate smack in the middle of its flowing waters for the 2016 season was a quiet coup. For multiple reasons.
The most obvious are the exclusive eyeballs the club now has on a rich, underscouted mine of skilled players. But the development apparatus will only be as good as the infrastructure around it, and, well, things are looking good in Year 2 of the Rio Grande Valley FC project.
The Dynamo endeavored to build RGVFC a full-time home in time for the 2017 USL season, which is closing in this weekend. Its groundskeepers just recently laid the last pads of sod, and it certainly looks all ready to roll for the club’s ceremonial first home match against LigaMX’s Monterrey in a friendly on Wednesday.
— Patrick Chalvire (@PatrickKGBT) March 16, 2017
That’ll do it.
H-E-B Park is a 9,700-seater, with knife-like overhangs providing shade over both stands. It’s an impressive piece of architecture, especially so for a second tier team entering just its second season. WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. has largely been considered the best lower-tier non-MLS stadium in the country for a few years now, but it’s a multi-use soccer stadium that wasn’t built explicitly for one team, no matter who’s using it at any given time.
That puts H-E-B Park in unique territory. It’s probably the single best stadium in the country constructed uniquely for a non-MLS team, and it’s planted firmly on the U.S.-Mexico border in a region thirsting for pro soccer. And now they have an appropriate palace to go along with it.