The Austin Chronicle

Soccer Watch

By Nick Barbaro, June 4, 2010, Sports

Wow, what a month for soccer fans. World Cup 2010 – each game in glorious HD – every morning and afternoon from June 11 through July 11. And in the evenings, a monumental Austin Aztex homestand, with the prospect of games at House Park every three or four days for the next month. Throw in a few pregame marches and post-game celebrations, and over the next five weeks or so a devoted fan might expect to spend about 170 hours – a little more than a full week – taking in the beautiful game. An obsessed fan might take an extra hour in advance to make such a calculation.

It all starts this Saturday, June 5, 7:30pm, when the streaking Aztex host the Puerto Rico Islanders, one of the preseason favorites in Division 2. The Aztex come in on a tear, with two multigoal road wins last week – 3-1 at Miami and 2-0 at Baltimore – extending a six-game unbeaten streak and now sporting the top record in the league. But, arguably, they haven't played several of the league's top contenders. That ends this week, as the Aztex host three of the top teams in the league over the next eight days – including your one-and-only chance to see the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps at House Park, this season or ever; both teams will be in Major League Soccer next year. By then the draw for the U.S. Open Cup should be set; the games on the schedule below are a current best guess.

The local version of the U.S. Open Cup, the Aztex Cup, is a monthslong citywide championship open to all local amateur teams – the final will be played at noon this Saturday, June 5, noon, at the Onion Creek Soccer Complex.

As for WC2010, with the opening game now just a week away (June 11, Mexico vs. South Africa), all the final squads have been named; high-profile cuts include Italy's American-born Giuseppe Rossi and England speedster Theo Walcott. There are tuneup games pretty much every day now, many of them televised or webcast on ESPN3. Upcoming highlights include Mexico vs. Italy, Thursday, June 3, noon, on Telemundo; and USA vs. Australia, Saturday, June 5, 7:30am, on ESPN2.

WC viewing parties will be going on all over town, with all 64 games being broadcast (in HD and 3D), and ESPN pumping it 24-7. Check this space next week for an extensive listing of public viewing options and specials; meanwhile, see the Chronicle Sports section online for a list of some places that'll be showing games – including one who says they'll pay you $20 an hour to watch at their place.

China won't be at next year's Women's World Cup in Germany after losing at home to Japan, 2-0, in the third-place game of the Asian Cup.

Austin Aztex: The Next Five Weeks

Home games in bold; U.S. Open Cup games in italic

Saturday, June 5, 7:30pm: Puerto Rico Islanders

Wednesday, June 9, 7:30pm: Portland Timbers

Saturday, June 12, 7:30pm: Vancouver Whitecaps

Tuesday, June 15: Dallas-Fort Worth Tornados (U.S. Open Cup)

Saturday, June 19, 7:30pm: Miami FC Blues

Tuesday, June 22: U.S. Open Cup second round TBA*

Saturday, June 26, 6:30pm: at Miami FC Blues

Tuesday, June 29: U.S. Open Cup third round TBA*

Saturday, July 3, 7:30pm: Puerto Rico Islanders

Tuesday, July 6: U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals TBA*

Friday July 9, 6:30pm: at Rochester Rhinos

* U.S. Open Cup game dates are tentative, and locations are undecided

[Ed. note:] The first-round draw has since been announced; the Aztex host the Dallas-Fort Worth Tornados on Tuesday, June 15.

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