The Austin Chronicle

Soccer Watch

By Nick Barbaro, August 29, 2014, Sports

The Texas Longhorns got their first goal of the 2014 season from none other than junior goalkeeper Abby Smith, who curled home a 45-yard free kick 25 minutes into the season opener against Arizona State on Saturday. Smith is a preseason All American, but the Horns are not expecting to rely on her scoring touch. The Longhorns had to settle for a 2-2 draw in the first of their two games in Honolulu, but came back with a 2-1 win over host U. of Hawaii on Monday. They open their home schedule this weekend, Aug. 29 & 31, against Arkansas (7:30pm, Friday) and Nevada (2pm, Sunday). New this season at Myers Stadium: field level bleacher seating ($8-10; grandstand $5-7). That could actually be very cool, because one of the big problems with the game-day experience at Myers is that the stands are so far from the action, across the lanes of the stadium track, that even a decent-sized crowd seems small and distant. I'll let you know next week how it works.

Fire up the DVR when you head out to that UT-Nevada game, because the championship game in the National Women's Soccer League is this Sunday, Aug. 31, 2pm on ESPN2. Regular season champion Seattle Reign beat the Washington Spirit in the semifinals, 2-1, on a late goal by Megan Rapinoe and a PK save by Hope Solo; they'll host FC Kansas City, who ousted the defending champion Portland Thorns, 3-2 in overtime on Satur­day, in a game where the temperature was measured at 159 degrees on the turf field.

Germany won its second world championship of the summer on Sunday, capturing the U-20 Women's World Cup with a 1-0 overtime win over Nigeria. Germany ties the USA with three titles each, in the seven tournaments that have been played. Nigeria was led by Oklahoma State star Courtney Dike, whom UT will see in their season finale.

Glasgow Celtic crashed out of the European Champions League on Tuesday, losing at home to something called NK Maribor, who I believe become the first Slovenian team to qualify for the ECL group stage. The draw is today, Aug. 28, for those group stage games to be played Sept. 16-Dec. 10. ... That's embarrassing, but not as bad as Manchester United losing 4-0 to the third-division Milton Keynes Dons in the League Cup Tuesday... Soccer telecasts seem to be enjoying a post-World Cup bump: NBC's viewership for the first weekend of the English Premier League was up 23% from last year; and Fox Sports' first Champions League offering, Arsenal at Besiktas, set a record for them, up 155% from last year's opener... Tim Howard announced this week that he's taking a year off from national team play.

Elsewhere, Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Oscar Garcia quit his post Monday, two days before a Europa League playoff game, because of the "current security situation" in Israel; African Nations Cup qualifiers in Ivory Coast and perhaps Nigeria are postponed indefinitely because of the Ebola outbreak; and a player was killed at an Algerian league game by an object thrown by a fan in his own team's stands. So, you know, play on.

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