Soccer Watch

Austin Aztex suffer first home loss, and more

Chuy Cortes
Chuy Cortes (by Jillian Jacobs)

The Austin Aztex suffered their first home loss Saturday, 2-0 to perennial PDL powerhouse Laredo Heat, and suddenly, a four-game unbeaten streak has become a three-game winless streak. The Aztex need to turn things around, or see their PDL Mid South Division lead melt away.

Well, who better to have in your sights than the El Paso Patriots, another traditional power, but a team the Aztex spanked, 6-1, in the home opener a few weeks ago. Come out and root on the boys in blue: Saturday, June 16, 7:30pm, at House Park, 13th & Lamar. Now with live music and more. Nice profile of "Chuy Cortes: The People's Champ" on the Aztex website this week.

The U.S. Men opened World Cup qualifying this weekend with decent results, if not great performances: a 3-1 home win over Antigua & Bar­bu­da, then a 1-1 draw in Guatema­la, leave the U.S. even with Jamaica atop the four-team group, with the top two advancing on; this group stage concludes in Septem­ber-October.

This whole job thing can be a serious distraction during the European Champion­ships this month. If it weren't for ESPN3 streaming all the games live – with pretty good video quality – I wouldn't be coming to work at all these first two weeks.

At press time – 12 games in and halfway through the group stage – Euro 2012 is perhaps surpassing expectations: We've had positive attacking play; no scoreless draws, but 11 close games; one big upset (Denmark over Holland); one come-from-behind home team win (Ukraine over Sweden); and a good amount of goals (33 overall), including a few gorgeous finishes, but most of them built out of well-played balls and well-timed runs. It's been a very high caliber of play indeed.

If there's a favorite at this point, it's Germany; but how tough is their Group of Death? Despite opening with two wins, the Germans (No. 2 in the world) still haven't clinched a quarterfinal spot, and despite opening with two losses, Holland (No. 4 in the world) still isn't eliminated. It'll all be sorted out starting this Saturday, June 16, as the group stage finales play out over four days, with two simultaneous games each day, at 1:45pm on ESPN & ESPN2:

Saturday (A): Czech Rep. vs. Poland; Greece vs. Russia

Sunday (B): Denmark vs. Germany; Portugal vs. Holland

Monday (C): Croatia vs. Spain; Italy vs. Ireland

Tuesday (D): England vs. Ukraine; Sweden vs. France

Quarterfinals: Thursday-Sunday, June 21-24, also 1:45pm.

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