Sports

Soccer Watch

New community-owned soccer team in Austin? And more news you will get a kick out of.

Want to get in on the ground floor of a community-owned pro soccer team in Austin? Come to the first organizational brainstorming meeting Saturday, Dec. 4, 2-4pm, at Mister Tramp's Pub, 8565 Research Blvd. More info at www.chanticosarmy.com and www.austinphoenixsoccer.com.

The U.S. women became the 16th and last team to qualify for the 2011 Women's World Cup last week, edging out Italy in a two-game playoff. If the qualifying scare wasn't enough, the draw announced Monday that the top-ranked U.S. got placed into the toughest WC group, facing fourth-ranked Sweden, sixth-ranked North Korea, and first-timers Colombia. The cup takes place June 26-July 17 in Germany.

Even as corruption accusations snowball – three separate allegations now, each involving multiple FIFA officials and millions of dollars in illegal payoffs – soccer's ruling body prepares to select the sites for World Cups 2018 and 2022 on Thursday. There are four bidders for 2018 – England, Russia, Netherlands/Belgium, and Spain/Portugal – and five for 2022: Australia, South Korea, Japan, Qatar, and the United States. Among the presenters: British Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, Elle Macpherson for Australia, and Morgan Freeman and Bill Clinton for the U.S. Freeman is also the narrator of the U.S. Bid Committee's promotional video, "Bring It to Our Country." Vladimir Putin damaged Russia's chances by pulling out of the event the day before he was to arrive in Zurich.

The Women's College Cup Final Four is this weekend in Cary, N.C. Friday, Dec. 3: Ohio State-Notre Dame, 3pm, ESPN2; Stanford-Boston College, 5:30pm, ESPNU; the final is Sunday, Dec. 5, 11am, ESPN2. The men are a week behind, with quarterfinals this Friday and Saturday, and the Final Four next weekend in Santa Barbara.

European Champions League final group stage games are Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 7-8, with games of the week showing live on Fox channels starting at 1:45pm.

Barcelona destroyed Real Madrid Monday in El Clásico, 5-0, with seven players who were on Spain's WC-winning national team. Barca is clearly the best team in the world right now, and probably the most fun to watch as well.

We're not sure if you knew this, but the World Cup is kind of a big deal. See all our coverage of the planet-wide celebration of fútbol excellence at austinchronicle.com/worldcup.

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