Soccer Watch

Aztex regular-season home finale, and more

Friday night could be your final chance to see your 2012 Austin Aztex, as they host the West Texas Sockers in the regular-season home finale, at House Park at 7:30pm. I say "could" because the Aztex are tantalizingly close to clinching a playoff spot as one of the top two finishers in the PDL Mid South division – and with that comes an option to bid to host a first-round regional playoff later this month. But whether that might come to pass depends on a lot of factors. So, first things first.

The Aztex come into this home finale off a hugely successful road trip: a 2-1 win over the first-place Laredo Heat (goals by Kekuta Manneh and Kris Tyrpak), and a 6-1 thumping of the New Orleans Jesters, who had earned two draws in Austin earlier in the season. Tyrpak had two goals in this one, and Manneh added a goal and an assist (and if you're sensing a pattern there, you – and the Aztex – might be onto something; the young strike pair have 16 goals between them). And suddenly, what was recently a three-game losing streak is now a three-game winning streak, and the Aztex take a lot of momentum into Friday night, hoping for a good send-off before heading off to play at third-place El Paso two days later, before finishing in New Orleans July 14. Come root them on – the loud folks are right behind the home bench; the drinking is largely done at the Tavern, starting around 6pm. The Aztex's 32 goals on the season are the second-highest total in the 73-team PDL. Defender Ross Kelly has played every minute of every game for the Aztex.

Well, I must admit, I got that wrong. I thought Italy could match up pretty well with Spain in the Euro2012 title game, and compete in the midfield. But Spain wore them down, knocked them out 4-0, and pretty much silenced critics who doubted their "beautiful" style of short passes and relentless possession. Italy, to their credit, tried to play an open game against the champions, and they deserved better than the dismal final scoreline. But Spain's total dominance of the strongest field ever assembled for any tournament would seem to have sent a message about their brand of soccer: the fluid, short passing game that they've practiced for years, and seemingly perfected. Pundits are now comparing them to Hungary in the '50s, or Brazil in the '70s, two of the greatest teams of all time.

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