Soccer Watch

Lightning home opener, and more

Austin's Premier Development League team, the Austin Lightning, has its home opener Saturday at 7:30pm against the New Orleans Shell Shockers, after a split on the road last weekend with the highly regarded El Paso Patriots: a 1-0 loss Friday night, followed by a 2-1 win Saturday. The new-look Lightning will be inaugurating their new home field, the Burger Center (3200 Jones, off Highway 290 West, between Ben White and MoPac. $5, $3 youth, free under 5). The match is one of four U.S. Open Cup qualifiers for both teams; the Lightning need a win here to have a shot at advancing into Cup play. For each home game, the Lightning is organizing a "Thunder section" for their loudest and best fans; contact their "Thunder Coordinator" for details, at

Wednesday's UEFA Cup final in Glasgow is an all-Spanish affair – Espanyol vs. defending champs Sevilla – 1:30pm May 16, live on FSC. Then it's another week until the Liverpool-AC Milan Champions League final. Meanwhile in Europe, the focus is on the league races across the continent. Trouble is, most of the big ones have been decided long ago: Inter Milan in Italy and Lyon in France; Manchester United has ended Chelsea's two-year reign in England, as the Blues' late charge sputtered over the last few weeks. Only in Spain and Germany are title races still in the balance, though there are plenty of races still alive for European spots, and to avoid relegation.

The Latin American season is into the home stretch as well, and Mexico City's Club America is on a roll. They won Mexico's Clausura championship April 29, beating Tecos, 6-3, before a crowd of more than 100,000 at the Estadio Azteca. This week, they advanced to the quarterfinals of the Copa Libertadores by beating Chilean champs Colo Colo; next they face Atlas in a two-leg Mexican championship quarter-final on Thursday and Sunday, before resuming Libertadores play next Wednesday in South America.

MLS play is well under way as well; sorry, I haven't really been able to focus on it yet.

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