Soccer Watch

The Lady Longhorns were ousted from the NCAA playoffs on Friday night; a 2-0 loss to the University of Portland ended the careers of perhaps UT's best senior class ever, led by all-time leading goal-scorer Kelly McDonald and all-time everything-else leader Kelly Wilson.

At least the Horns are in good company. Overwhelming tourney favorite North Carolina was bounced from the NCAAs as well – losing at home to Santa Clara, 1-0, in overtime. It was the Tar Heels' first loss since the 2002 Final Four right here in Austin, when they were beaten, in overtime, by Santa Clara. Also out: No. 2 Penn State and No. 3 Virginia.

The NCAA men got under way last weekend as well, with the 16 top seeds joining the fray this week. For more on both tournaments, see "Soccer Watch Online."

Lovely weather for soccer, isn't it? The U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program Boys Thanksgiving Interregional starts the day after Thanksgiving and runs through Monday – featuring 18 elite teams from around the country, including the under-15 national team, two top squads from the U-14 National Pool, and an under-16 team from the Lone Star Soccer Club of Austin. Nov. 26-29; Fri., 5-9pm; Sat., 9am-9pm; Sun., 9am-8pm; Mon., 8:30-noon. Northeast Metro Park, east of Pflugerville on FM 1825. For the full schedule, see or "Soccer Watch Online."

Fan violence has been huge in the European news this week, and it isn't just because there are NBA fans across the pond. What has public sentiment up in arms are back-to-back incidents of racial abuse involving black players on English teams. First off, several black players on the national team faced particularly virulent racist taunts from fans in Madrid last week, supposedly encouraged by the Spanish national team coach. Then on Tuesday, two fans were arrested in Blackburn on "suspicion of committing a racially aggravated public order offence" against Dwight Yorke, a Trinidadian player for rival team Birmingham. After the suspects were shown on TV and pictured in newspapers hurling abuse at Yorke on Sunday, a nationwide appeal for information leading to their identification and arrest went out, and the pair turned themselves in to a Blackburn police station.

The U.S. men, having already punched their ticket to the final round of World Cup Qualifying, punched out Jamaica last Wednesday, as a 1-1 draw sealed the Reggae Boys' fate and sent Panama to the final six instead. The U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, and Trinidad & Tobago start play Feb. 9, with three of the six guaranteeing a spot in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. For more on WC action around the world, plus the latest results from the European Champions League – in action as we go to press – see "Soccer Watch Online."

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