At least that was the consensus of those of us at House Park Tuesday night, when the Austin Aztex' U.S. Open Cup loss to the USL-PRO Wilmington Hammerheads turned almost completely on one questionable call just 20 minutes into the game: a red card ejection to Aztex goalkeeper Devin Cook, and a Hammerheads penalty kick goal, on what appeared to be a 50/50 challenge, that may or may not have occurred inside the penalty area. (If the ref's call was questionable, his positioning on the play was not even that: He had to come running from 30-40 yards away across midfield to point at the spot and brandish the card.)
It was a terrible call, by a badly out-of-position referee, and I'm hugely bitter about it, but never mind all that. The real point is: Even after going a man down, the Aztex played the Hammerheads straight up, and indeed, had the best of the play for long stretches of the game, and the majority of the scoring chances. You would not have guessed that this was 10-on-11, let alone an amateur team against a pro team. The Hammerheads sealed it late with a free kick nicely driven into the Aztex box, which Leone Cruz could only deflect in for an own goal, and ... c'est la vie. Wilmington moves on. But the Aztex looked good.
So now, with the U.S. Open Cup campaign over (so no trip to Portland on Wednesday), it's time for the Aztex to get down to business in the PDL Mid South. The focus is on the home games coming up the next two Saturdays, and this week's is the biggest, as the Aztex host their main division rivals, the Laredo Heat (Sat., May 25, 7:30pm) – the Heat's only appearance in Austin this season. These were the top two teams in the division last year, and look to be that again; an Aztex win would open a five-point gap between them. Next week it's Oklahoma City (Sat., June 1, 7:30pm) in the last game of the current homestand.
On the international scene, as one season ends, another begins, and they're both on broadcast TV this week: The European Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium, Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich, is Saturday, May 25, 1:30pm on Fox. And ESPN2 has a doubleheader of international friendlies on Wednesday, May 29, as teams prepare for World Cup Qualifiers coming up in June: Germany-Ecuador at 1:30pm, USA-Belgium at 7pm.
PDL Mid South Standings
|Houston Dutch Lions||1||0||1||1|
|El Paso Patriots||1||0||1||1|
|West Texas Sockers||1||0||1||1|