Soccer Watch

Aztex gear up for Dynamo exhibition, broken legs in England, and more

The Austin Aztex officially open their 2010 season this Sunday with an exhibition game against Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo: March 14, 5pm, at Nelson Field, 7400 Berkman at Highway 290, $15-20 at The Aztex played in a scrimmage against the Dynamo this past Sunday down in Houston – a 1-1 draw that sounds like it was very much a feeling-out process for both teams. Austin's tally was a flukish own-goal; Houston's late equalizer was from Erik Ustruck, who spent some of last season with the Aztex. But perhaps most intriguing was the unveiling of several nonroster players who are presumably in the running to make the team: two talented forwards in Jarrod Smith, a New Zealander who most recently played for the Seattle Sounders, and Maxwell Griffin, UCLA's leading scorer in 2007 and 2008; midfielder Richard Edgar, formerly on the U-15 and U-17 national teams; and defender Wes Allen, an Anderson High grad and one of the original Aztex U-23 players, who saw limited action last year.

There's Champions League action this week, both in Europe and North/Central America. On Tues­day, Arsenal and Bayern Munich became the first teams to advance to the Euro quarterfinals; the Round of 16 ends next Tuesday-Wednesday, March 16-17, live on Fox networks at 1:45pm. CONCACAF quarterfinals get under way as we go to press, with just one MLS team still alive.

The English Premier League is under scrutiny this week after two nasty broken-leg incidents caused by two bad tackles by England-based players. First, Stoke's Ryan Shawcross took out Arsenal's promising 19-year-old Aaron Ramsey with a crunching studs-up tackle in a Feb. 27 EPL game. Just five days later, Manchester City's Nigel de Jong scythed down Stuart Holden, breaking his fibula in a Holland-USA friendly (the Dutch won, 2-1). After­ward, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk was not pleased with his player. "As soon as the game was over, I got hold of him and I told him straight," he told the Mirror. "He really must get this out of his system." "Nigel plays in England and that is the league where referees allow players to do so much more," van Marwijk went on. And if the tables were turned on his own team, he mused, "a foul like the one Nigel committed on Holden can cost us the World Cup." Both Shawcross and de Jong expressed regrets but said they won't change their physical play. "Such offenses are part of football," said de Jong. "You have to go in full."

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Aztex, Houston Dynamo, Premier League

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