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Soccer Watch

Austin Aztex play their first game ever, and more

Tale of two cities: The Austin Aztex play the first game in franchise history this Saturday, May 3. The new franchise has big ambitions and a lot of good players on their Under-23 roster; this opener, on the road against a very good El Paso Patriots team that was in the playoffs last year, is a stern first reality check on how far they may be able to go in this inaugural season. A group of Aztex supporters is planning to meet at Mother Egan's, 715 W. Sixth, to root on the team via live webcast (www.elpaso-patriots.com). 7:30pm kickoff. First pitcher's on me.

Twelve hours later, in a midsized industrial town in England's West Midlands, the Aztex's sister team, the Stoke City Potters, hosts its season finale, and as it happens, it's the team's biggest game in more than 20 years. With a win or even a draw against 21st-place Leicester, the Potters clinch second place in the English second division and automatic promotion to the English Premier League. (Stoke has never been in the EPL since it formed in 1992, though they have a storied past, dating back to 1863 and the earliest beginnings of the game.)

So, where does that leave Phil Rawlins? He's the Aztex owner and general manager, but he also owns part of Stoke City, and he grew up as a Potters fan. Where's he going to be that night/morning? "I leave tomorrow for England! Only one place I could be this weekend. :)" I'm certain he'll be back for the Aztex home opener, next Saturday, May 10.

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