The Houston Hotshots played in the Continental Indoor Soccer League from 1994-1997 and then the World Indoor Soccer League from 1999-2000.
The club was owned by Giorgio Borlenghi and Alfredo Brener, the brother of current Houston Dynamo Owner Gabriel, and came as the next professional entry in the Houston market after the Dynamos outdoor team in the 80s.
There was truly an element of entertainment, with mascot “Pico de Goalie,” music, but also talented footballers playing what I consider really to be another sport. Many players found the indoor game for many years as the only option.
I was very close to this team as the color analyst on HSE in Houston, working the games on TV with Bill Land (now the play-by-play voice of the San Antonio Spurs) and on radio with Matt Thomas so I have fond memories. In fact, my first national TV opportunity on FOX came with the “CISL Game of the Week” that took us to locations around the country.
In a World Cup year, 1994, the Hotshots were born. Going 7-21, the team failed to make the playoffs but drew 6,000 plus fans per game in its first season.
The Hotshots would have a rough year again in 1995, going 8-20 and again failing to make the playoffs.
Things changed dramatically when Manager Trevor Dawkins acquired attacker Paul Dougherty, who dominated the league and led them to the Championship match in both 1996 and 1997 – only to falter to Monterrey La Raza (Coached by Erich Geyer) and the Seattle Seadogs (coached by Fernando Clavijo and assisted by Brian Schmetzer, now the manager of MLS’ Seattle Sounders).
The 96 final filled the Compaq Center (formerly The Summit).
— Houston Town Futsal (@HTownFutsal) October 8, 2015
Dougherty would be a league MVP in 97 and changed the fortunes of the franchise on the field. He was an “eye pleasing” player to watch, scoring goals and creating for others.
Dougherty got the best out of others like Zizinho, Marco Lopez, Sean Bowers, Danny Pena, Nebo Bandovic, Beto dos Santos (also Houston Dynamos outdoor), GK Terry Waldorf and many other talented players, some who remained in the Houston soccer community to grow the game like pro teams before them.
Trevor Dawkins was named Coach of the Year in 96 and was assisted by current Strake Jesuit Head Coach Bill McDonald. Others like Olivier Finidori (now managing Cy-Fair Dynamos Youth Soccer Club) and Mirko Castillo remained in the game locally coaching amongst many others.
The demise of the Continental Indoor Soccer came about as friction occurred between NBA, NHL, MLB owned teams and those that were independent.
The league over the years had stars like Preki, Tatu and Dougherty. A number of these players would make the move to MLS which started in 1996, contingent upon the US hosting the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
The Hotshots would take two years off and return in 1999 and 2000 in the newly re-formed World Indoor Soccer League after the CISL folded.
Here’s to the Hotshots and their wonderful contributions to our professional soccer history in Houston!