Soccer Watch: Top 10s

The House Park flood in May was a big factor in the Austin Aztex's up and (way) down year. (Photo by John Anderson)

1) Aztex go pro. After a wildly successful three seasons in the amateur Premier Development League – a championship, a league-best record, and 13 players, several of them local, picked up by MLS teams – the Austin Aztex made the long-awaited jump to pro status this year.

2) Aztex go dark. After a difficult season on and off the field, the Aztex announced in October that they would not have a team in 2016. They vow to return in 2017 with a new, soccer-specific stadium, but meanwhile, San Antonio appears to have grabbed the inside track in the race to bring Major League Soccer to Central Texas, as...

3) San Antonio Spurs push out Scorpions. Spurs Sports & Entertainment reached an agreement in December to operate a USL team at Toyota Field in 2016, after the city of San Antonio and Bexar County bought the stadium from the owner of the NASL San Antonio Scorpions for $18 million.

4) Abby Smith sets a new UT shutout record. The Longhorns' senior goalkeeper started the year with the U.S. U-23 national team, ended it with her 30th career shutout, and even scored the Horns' first goal of the season – for the second season in a row. She'll be missed.

5) Three Austin-area high school teams make it to the state championship game. The Vandegrift High girls, Liberty Hill boys, and Georgetown East View boys each lost in the final.

6) The FIFA corruption scandal blows up, with some 23 FIFA executives arrested in pre-dawn raids on a luxury hotel in Zurich in May and December, accused of a "24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer" to the tune of $150 million in bribes and kickbacks. At this point, more than two-thirds of the people who voted to award the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar have been arrested or indicted.

7) The U.S. Women win the World Cup, getting better with each game, and capping it with a memorable, celebratory, five-goal romp over defending champ Japan in the final.

8) U.S. Men up and mostly down. Beating the Netherlands and Germany on the road was cool, but when it came to games that mattered, the Gold Cup was a fiasco, followed by a home loss to archrival Mexico with a spot in the Olympics on the line.

9) Hope Solo was suspended from the U.S. National Team, after an incident at the U.S. training camp when her husband, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens (with whom she was involved in a domestic abuse incident the night before their wedding) was busted for DUI after the pair commandeered a team van without permission.

10) A couple of feel-good stories to end the year: Abby Wambach retired from international soccer as the top goal-scorer of all time, man or woman. Great career, great farewell speech; look it up. And the Portland Timbers won MLS Cup, capping a hugely successful MLS season, and bringing the Cup to the Pacific Northwest for the first time.

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