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Soccer Watch

By Nick Barbaro, Fri., June 21, 2013

The Austin Aztex got untracked offensively in a big way this week, overwhelming the El Paso Patriots Saturday night at House Park, 8-0, in front of a season-high crowd of 1,926, then beating Houston on the road Tuesday, 3-0. Westlake High product Tucker Hume hit two goals Saturday; last season's top scorer Kris Tyrpak got one in each game – those two are now tied for the team scoring lead with four goals each, and the Aztex, now 7-0 on the season, seem to be clicking really well as a team. They're on the road again at Okla­homa City this Saturday, then back home for the next three weekends – their last home games of the regular season: Houston on June 29; West Texas, July 5; and OKC, July 13.

The U.S. moved much closer to World Cup qualification with a 1-0 win over Honduras Tuesday evening in Salt Lake City, finishing a sweep of their three June qualifiers, and pretty much silencing the doubters – for now. Overall, the Americans looked comfortable in possession, got great play on the wings, and created lots of scoring chances – albeit against teams that didn't put a lot of pressure on them. Jozy Altidore had the lone goal; he's scored in his last four games for the national team, tying an all-time U.S. record... Also on Tuesday, Australia, Iran, and South Korea each punched their tickets for Brazil 2014, joining Japan as Asia's entrants; qualifying play will resume worldwide in September.

The Confederations Cup is ongoing in Brazil: Held a year before the World Cup, the tournament is a kind of WC dry run for the top teams from each continent, and for the host country. For Brazil that's especially critical because they've got the Olympics two years after next summer's WC, and there's been a lot of trepidation, at home and abroad, about stadium construction, a balky transportation system, public safety, and various other civic infrastructure that's having a hard time keeping up with Brazil's rapid development.

So, major riots in all of Brazil's biggest cities is not the image organizers wanted to project. Yet there it is, the overwhelming message of the Cup, as seen on TV screens around the world: the Brazilian people are pissed off – not only have the promised public benefits connected with the games been delayed, scaled back, or cancelled, but the stadium construction costs, which were to be fully privately funded, have fallen instead on the overstretched government, at the expense of, you guessed it, social spending. A substantial bus fare hike on the eve of the games sparked the current riots. "We don't want the Cup," said Camila, a 32-year-old travel agent in São Paolo, quoted by Reuters. "We want education, hospitals, a better life for our children."

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