The Austin Aztex season came to an end Sunday evening at House Park with a 2-0 loss to Southeast champion the Ocala Stampede. The Aztex had most of the possession, and a 16-12 edge in shots, but Ocala kept their defensive shape and composure, soaked up the Aztex's pressure, got a great performance from their goalie, and sprung some lethal counterattacks, plus they had a Gambian forward, Karamba Janneh, who was, for this night at least, the best player on the field.
But let's not dwell – the Aztex had a truly great season: They had an 11-1-2 record, with a PDL-high four players earning all-conference honors (Chuy Cortes, Tony Rocha, Devin Perales, and Kalen Ryden); they set new attendance records for both regular season and playoffs; they saw a number of former players enjoy success in the pro ranks; and they announced the move to USL PRO, plus the expanded ownership team, that in turn enabled the big outdoor World Cup watch party at the Long Center, and the long-awaited biergarten* set up outside of House Park on the playoff weekend. Taken altogether, that's a lot of big steps forward for the third-year franchise, and a good sign for the future of "Austin's Professional Sports Team."
With the World Cup over, and now the Aztex season over, there's still a wealth of soccer on TV this week – some 20 games in all, including key MLS games, plus a variety of exhibition matches involving the big European teams touring the U.S., leading up to the Guinness Cup final (7pm Monday, Aug. 4, Fox Sports 1 and ESPN Deportes) and the MLS All-Star game against Bayern Munich (8:30pm Wed., Aug. 6, ESPN2).
Encouraged by the Austin Aztex's successful biergarten launch last weekend, University of Michigan officials have announced that they will allow beer sales inside UM's Big House Saturday night, for the game between Real Madrid and Manchester United. All alcohol – along with purses, often used to secrete alcohol – are normally strictly forbidden at the Big House. The game is expected to break the U.S. attendance record for a soccer game, which is 101,799 at the Rose Bowl during the 1984 Olympics.
*I use the term loosely; it was a fenced-in section of driveway, but we were happy to have it.