Soccer Watch

All three of the local NCAA soccer programs open conference play this weekend. The UT Longhorns (6-3-1) go in on a roll, after a pair of 3-0 wins over Texas State and UTSA last weekend. They host two of the weaker teams in the Big 12: TCU at 7pm Friday, and Iowa State at 1pm Sunday. The schedule gets a lot harder after this, so these are games the Horns really need to get in the bank. Yeah, they're shown live on the Longhorn Net­work, but go see them really live. Friday is Horns and Heroes night; get there early to tour "fire trucks, police cars and even a helicopter!" Sunday there's a postgame youth clinic for kids eighth grade and under.

At St. Edward's, for the first time in recent memory, the men are ranked higher than the women – surprisingly, actually, the women dropped completely out of the top 20, and all the way to sixth in the South Central region, despite staying undefeated at 3-0-2, heading into Heartland Conference play. They're at Dallas Baptist Saturday, then host St. Mary's at Lewis-Chen field, at 2:30pm Monday. The men (2-1-1 after a good road win over Midwest­ern State) host West Texas A&M at 4pm Friday, then head to Abilene to take on McMurry.

MLS is getting into crunch time, as teams jockey for playoff positions in both divisions. NBC's game of the week, at 2:30pm Sunday, is a Western Conference showdown between the defending champion LA Galaxy and the always entertaining Portland Timbers, seeking their first-ever MLS playoff spot... The European Champions League group stage continues this Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 1 and 2 (mostly at 1:45pm; Fox networks are showing several games)... Counting down to Oct. 11 and 15, when the bulk of the World Cup 2014 field will be decided, across Europe, Africa, and North and South America... The inaugural AS Roma Austin Fan Club event will be held 1pm Sunday, Sept. 29 at Cuatros, 1004 W. 24th; Roma-Bologna kicks off at 1:45pm. Forza Giallorossi!

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