Austin Aztex Last Home Games of the Season?!?
By Nick Barbaro,
5:21PM, Wed. Jul. 2, 2008
Boy did that go fast. The Premier Development League regular season is only 10 weeks long – yet another reason to look forward to the debut next year of the USL-1 Aztex, and its six-month-long season. Anyway, the Aztex U-23s play their last two home games of the regular season this week – Thursday, July 3, 7:30pm against the Laredo Heat, and Sunday, July 6, 7:30pm against the Mississippi Brilla – before finishing the regular season with three straight road games.
The Aztex (8-2-1) can clinch the PDL Mid South title by winning both home games. Thursday should be especially intense, because defending national champion Laredo currently sits third in the division, with only the top two making the playoffs. (The Brilla sit fourth, the last team with a realistic playoff chance.) So, if you've been thinking that you'd go catch an Aztex game, this is the week.
Great showing by the Aztex Sunday night against the Mexican First Division UANL Tigres. Despite losing 2-1, the Aztex played Tigres on pretty much even terms throughout. (continued below)
On paper, at least, this could have been a huge mismatch: One of the larger teams in a world-class league playing an amateur squad that's only been in existence for a couple of months. It's a measure of how far the Aztex have come, that the game never felt anything like a blowout. If Tigres had more technical skill, particularly in the bottom half of the roster, the Aztex kept up, played smart, probably created the greater number of legitimate scoring chances, and brought a number of fine saves from Tigres' star goalkeeper, Oscar Perez. Perhaps as important, the game created a festive atmosphere (including a raucous fan club from Oklahoma – drums, smoke, flares, toilet paper, a fire in the stands, etc.), and drew 4,743 fans. Maybe half of those were Hispanics wearing their beloved Tigres' gold and blue, but they seemed to like what they saw from the local team, and my guess is, they'll be back, especially when the Aztex field a USL First Division pro team next year.
Speaking of which, USL clubs fared pretty well in the U.S. Open Cup third round, winning three of eight matches against Major League Soccer teams. Winners: the USL-1 Seattle Sounders and Charleston Battery, and Second Division Crystal Palace Baltimore.
Congrats to Spain, pretty much the best team throughout Euro2008, winning their first major title since the heyday of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. They smothered Germany in the final, 1-0, by being quicker to the ball, all over the field. Was Germany really that punchless, or does Spain play much better team defense than anyone expected?
Also to LDU Quito, who upset Brazilian favorite Fluminense to win the Copa Libertadores South American championship Wednesday night. Or maybe not – actually they play a few hours after we go to press – but that's my pick.