The long, tapered fuse lay invitingly across the table with a cache of explosives on the other end. All it needed was a light.
All weekend the field conditions at BBVA Compass Stadium had vexed the teams who’d arrived just days earlier for the men’s Division I College Cup, soccer’s answer to the Final Four. By the start of June, Houston had been ravaged by a series of floods that sunk the triangle between Dallas, Austin and Houston into a muddy morass. At one point in late May, flash flood warnings covered 183,000 square miles of Texas, roughly the size of Germany and the European lowlands combined.
The knock-on effect for professional soccer in Houston shredded the BBVA Compass Stadium field. The Dash and Dynamo were forced off their flooded practice fields, forcing them onto the main stadium field for training sessions. The Dynamo re-sodded the field in the summer to accommodate, but anyone who’s planted seed knows it takes a growing season to fill in. The result, by the end of the year, was a ravaged playing surface filled in copiously with sand.
It was onto this sand-swept plane of desert the four best teams in men’s college soccer stepped in early December to determine a champion.