Soccer Watch

Austin Aztex announce rooster, and more

The Austin Aztex will announce their 2008 roster today, in a media event at SoccerZone North in Cedar Park. We got a sneak peek and recognized a few names that local fans may be familiar with: veteran local goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo; St. Stephen's Episcopal School grad A.J. Godbolt, who had a brief stint with the MLS's Kansas City Wizards; Round Rock's Zack Pope, recently drafted out of Duke University by the Chicago Fire; and veteran defender Beto Papandrea, the oldest player on the squad at 32. Also making the cut: both Wes Allen and Marcelino Uriarte, the two center midfielders profiled in Thomas Hackett's "Playing Through" column in the April 4 issue. Way to pick 'em, Thomas. The Aztex season opens May 3, on the road in El Paso; the first home game is May 10 against the also-brand-new Houston Leones.

Two draws in the first legs of the European Champions League semifinals this week: Chelsea came back to draw at Liverpool, 1-1, on an own goal by the normally dependable John Arne Riise, on virtually the game's final play, five minutes deep into extra time. And Manchester United settled for a 0-0 draw at Barcelona, after Man U star Cristiano Ronaldo missed an early penalty kick. Return legs are next Tuesday and Wednesday, 1:30pm, on ESPN2.

Newly elected Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced yesterday that he'd be stepping down as president of AC Milan, though he'll retain ownership of the troubled giant. Berlusconi also stepped down during his first two terms as PM, from 2001 to 2006.

Almost two years after the fact, Marco Materazzi got a public apology and undisclosed damages from British tabloid the Daily Star earlier this month for its report that he had goaded Zinédine Zidane with racist abuse before the famous World Cup head-butting incident of 2006. The Star acknowledged that the allegations were "wholly untrue."

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