Sports

Soccer Watch

The Austin Lightning wins, Beckham's back, and more

The Austin Lightning had a good weekend despite the rain – a 2-0 win over the El Paso Patriots Saturday, following a 1-1 draw against Laredo on Friday. Jared Chandler scored in each game, and Beto Papandrea had assists each night. Both games had to be moved to Vista Ridge in Cedar Park, due to the heavy rains on House Park's grass field. They're off this weekend and face a tough road trip next week to Baton Rouge, La., and Clinton, Miss., before coming home for three weekends in a row.

Pachuca beat Club America to win the Mexican Clausura championship on Sunday – the third major trophy in a year for the relatively small club.

The Copa Libertadores semifinals are this Wednesday and Thursday and the next – featuring an all-Brazilian affair between Santos and Gremio and upstart Colombian champs Cúcuta against Argentine giant Boca Juniors. (Speaking of Boca, it was good to see their ailing hero, Diego Maradona, in the stands on the weekend; he was recently hospitalized for 16 days for alcohol-related hepatitis.)

June 2 and 6 are international game days. The U.S. men take on China in San Jose Saturday night (live on ESPN2 at 7pm). Then on Thursday, they open their defense of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, facing Guatemala in Los Angeles. Also in the U.S. group are Trinidad and El Salvador; all the U.S. games will be live on Fox Soccer Channel.

England takes on Brazil in a friendly Friday night at Wembley. The big news on the England squad is the recall of David Beckham into the team for a crucial Euro 2008 qualifier at Estonia on Wednesday. Becks has been great for Real Madrid down the stretch in Spain; he created two goals on the weekend as the Galácticos held onto a razor-thin lead over Barcelona with just two games to go.

There are 40 Euro 2008 qualifying games this Saturday and Wednesday, the last games until late August. And if there aren't any big-name matchups – France-Ukraine is probably the best – there are definitely some where the favorites have a lot to lose if they don't perform up to expectations (England? Italy at Lithuania? Spain at Latvia?). Full list at austinchronicle.com/soccer.

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