Soccer Watch

Longhorns advance to Big 12 semifinal, and more

It's conference tournament time: The UT Longhorns played stifling defense to oust Oklahoma, 3-0, in a Big 12 quarterfinal Wednesday, and earn a rematch against regular season champ West Virginia in the semifinals at 5:30pm, Friday. All tournament games are at San Antonio's Blossom Soccer Complex and streamed live on; the championship final, 1:10pm, Sunday, will be on FOX Sports Network.

The 17-1 St. Edward's Women host the Heartland Conference tournament Thursday and Saturday, Nov. 1 and 3. The Hilltoppers play St. Mary's on Thursday, 3pm, trying not to look ahead to a potential rematch with Dallas Baptist in the title game Saturday at noon. Those two split a pair in the regular season, and are ranked fifth and ninth in the nation in Division II... That'll be the first half of a doubleheader, as the St. Ed's Men finish the regular season hosting Dallas Baptist, 2:30pm, Saturday, right after the women's final. At 10-3-3 and riding an 11-game unbeaten streak, the Hilltoppers should earn their first NCAA bid in a while.

The Austin Aztex have a new co-owner: René van de Zande, president and CEO of Emergo Group, which was the title sponsor last season.

Orlando City (née Austin Aztex) signed Adrian Heath to a three-year contract extension last week on the heels of his turning down a job with MLS' Toronto FC. Team President Phil Rawlins said: "We want to keep Adrian at the helm as we make our own push to bring Major League Soccer here in Central Florida."

MLS playoffs are under way as we go to press Wednesday, with the Houston Dynamo at Chicago in a play-in game. If the Dynamo win tonight, they'll be on NBC at 2:30pm Sunday, Nov. 4, hosting Kansas City in the first leg of the conference semifinal. The other play-in game is Vancouver at L.A. tonight, Thu., Nov. 1, 9:30pm, on NBCSN, then the conference semifinals are Sat.-Sun., Nov. 3-4, and Wed.-Thu., Nov. 7-8. In all, as many as 14 of the 15 playoff games will be on national TV (NBC, NBCSN, ESPN, ESPN2), leading up to the MLS Cup Dec. 1... Also on TV: ESPN2's Saturday morning game this week should be a good one: Arsenal at Manchester United, 7:30am. And Euro Champions League action resumes Tuesday-Wednesday, Nov. 6-7.

There were refereeing controversies all over the English Premier League last weekend, including four blown calls on goals allowed or disallowed, and charges of racism against one of the league's most experienced refs. It's a bit of a black eye for MLS, which just appointed Englishman Peter Walton to be head of refereeing, ostensibly to improve the American standard of refereeing.

How dominant is Spanish football these days? FIFA just announced the 23-player short list for 2012 player of the year, and not only are there seven Spaniards on the list, there are 12 players from the Spanish League – including six from Real Madrid and five from Barcelona.

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