El Salvador vs. New Zealand: BBVA's First International Match Ends in a 2-2 draw
So what do you get when you cross FIFA's 49th-ranked team against its 130th?
You get BBVA Compass Stadium's first international soccer match featuring El Salvador and New Zealand.
And it didn't disappoint. The 2-2 draw had more goals than either of the Dynamo's first two games at BBVA. A relatively low turnout of 13,256 came to Downtown's East End for the match -- Hair Balls did notice the five brave All Whites fanatics that came to cheer the small Kiwi nation.
El Salvador got their scoring on in the 13th minute of the match. From the left side of the pitch, Alfredo Pacheco hit a deep cross down the middle to a streaking Rafael Burgos. With the offside flag down, Burgos took advantage of the one-on-one against the All Whites keeper and chipped it over Mark Paston's outstretched arms to give La Selecta a 1-0 lead.
Fifteen minutes later, New Zealand's Ian Hogg notched his first career international goal. On his first cap for the All Whites, Hogg ran up the left side of the box unmarked against a shaky Salvadorian defense. He hit a low shot far post to tie the game up at 1-1.
Burgos struck again for La Selecta in the 56th minute with a powerful strike on the upper 90 from an awkward angle. The lead didn't last long, though, as another debutant for the All Whites earned his first career goal. This time, it was Kosta Barbarouses who put back a rebound on first touch past Salvadorian goalkeeper Benyi Segovia.
Houston-born Salvadorian proud of BBVA Longtime Major League Soccer star Alfredo Alvarez was back in Houston, on the sideline for La Selecta. Alvarez didn't see action against the All Whites due to a hamstring strain, but had nothing but praise for the Dynamo's new downtown digs, simply calling them "amazing."
"Being from Houston and seeing that the Dynamo have their own facility means a lot for the city of Houston, for the sport in the U.S.," Alvarez told Hair Balls. "I've played in MLS my whole career, up until a few months ago, and I gotta say, this stadium is up there with the best venues in MLS."
As a sophomore in high school, Alvarez led St. Thomas High School to the state finals. He then transferred to Mayde Creek, playing his junior and senior years with the Mighty Rams. Alvarez was drafted out of high school by the original incarnation of the San Jose Earthquakes -- now the Houston Dynamo. Currently, Alvarez plies his trade in Portugal for FC Paços de Ferreira.
Alvarez hopes to get another opportunity to play in the shadows of downtown Houston, and was proud of the way the Dynamo and the city of Houston were able to build next to the town's other major league teams.
"I think if you're gonna put a stadium, you gotta put it in downtown. You gotta follow the way basketball and baseball have done it, so soccer has to do it also. I think Houston did it the right way."