One Austin team remains in high school play-offs, and more
After the international break last week, attention this week was on Champions League play – in the U.S. as well as Europe – as the Seattle Sounders continued their early-season swoon with a 1-0 home loss to Santos Laguna in one CONCACAF semifinal, and the LA Galaxy are hosting Monterrey in the other semi as we go to press. The return legs are next Tuesday and Wednesday, April 9-10, 7 & 9 pm, respectively, both on FSC (which is going away in the next couple of months, btw; more on that some other time).
In Europe, the glamour matchup, Paris Saint-Germain hosting Barcelona, did not disappoint, as PSG came from behind twice – once with 10 minutes to go, and then again on the last touch of the game, to earn a 2-2 draw, as Barca's all-everything Lionel Messi scored another goal, but left at halftime with a hamstring injury, and is questionable for the return match. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich dominated Juventus, 2-0; Real Madrid tore apart Galatasaray, 3-0; and Málaga-Dortmund ended scoreless. The return legs are Tuesday and Wednesday, April 9-10, 1:45pm on FSC.
The USL Pro season kicked off last weekend, with the two expansion teams – Tampa Bay and Phoenix, each notching a win. The rival NASL opens play this weekend, with the second-year San Antonio Scorpions starting their season in the Minneapolis Metrodome, of all places. The PDL and the Austin Aztex start their season May 11 in Oklahoma City.
A couple of rounds into the high school play-offs, only one Austin ISD school is still alive (the Austin High girls), but so are 17 other area teams, representing Round Rock, Pflugerville, Leander, Dripping Springs, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Kyle, Del Valle, and Westlake.
As for the league seasons: Landon Donovan is back! After taking a several-month break to recharge his enthusiasm for the game, Donovan was on the field for the Galaxy last weekend, and talking about working his way back into the U.S. national team for the rest of the World Cup Qualifying campaign. So the two-time defending champs, even without David Beckham, again look like the class of Major League Soccer – perhaps by a goodly margin. Elsewhere, however, MLS has gotten off to an interesting start, with some powerhouses (Seattle, New York) getting dismal early results, and with surprising strength north of the border (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver).
Over in Europe, the league seasons are looking a bit anticlimactic, with Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Manchester United having wrapped up the top three titles with two months left in the season, and Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, and Glasgow Celtic just about there as well. That leaves the top teams unusually free to concentrate on the European competitions, while everyone else is still scrambling for the European qualification spots – and relegation spots as well – that are still up for grabs.