U.S. men feeling some unexpected pressure in WC Qualifying, and more
The U.S. men are under some unexpected pressure this week in the semifinal stage of World Cup Qualifying. Even if they win on Friday at tiny Antigua and Barbuda (6pm, only on Al Jazeera's new beIN Sport network), they'll go into the group finale Tuesday night, hosting Guatemala in Kansas City (6pm, ESPN2), needing at least a tie to advance and avoid an embarrassing early round exit. It's the first real pressure the team has faced under coach Jürgen Klinsmann. Some of his squad selections have been questioned (no Chris Wondolowski, no Jozy Altidore), and with Landon Donovan and Brek Shea ruled out with recent injuries, there's no proven outside midfielder on either side. They'll probably be fine, but imagine this: the U.S. gets eliminated from the 2014 World Cup because they can't beat some island country no one can find on a map, in a game you could only see in the U.S. on Al Jazeera – I don't know, is there any way, in this campaign season, that doesn't become a political issue?
It catches me by surprise, each year, how fast the college soccer season passes. With just six games left in their regular seasons, both the UT and St. Edward's women seem to be hitting their stride at the right time. The Hilltoppers are 11-1, 10th in the country, and host Newman at 1pm Thursday, and Oklahoma Christian at noon Saturday. The Horns, who were 2-6 at one point, are 4-0-1 since then – and since freshman goalkeeper Abby Smith arrived in the squad – and undefeated in the Big 12 after beating nationally ranked Oklahoma State on Friday. They host Texas Tech at 5:30pm Friday, and Kansas at 1pm Sunday, with just one home game on the schedule after that.