World Cup qualifying is back this weekend, Thursday through Tuesday. The U.S. hosts Costa Rica Friday evening in New York's Red Bull Arena, trying to avenge a 4-0 whacking that ended former coach Jürgen Klinsmann's tenure. Since then, under Bruce Arena, we're unbeaten in 14 games, and can just about wrap up a qualification spot with good results here and on Tuesday in Honduras. Arena has a pretty settled squad by now, and the key guys have been in good form recently – though there's some uncertainty in defense, where a few top choices are out with injuries... Elsewhere, Fox Sports 1 & 2 and ESPN Deportes will be showing games from Europe each day, highlighted by Italy at Spain, Saturday at 1:45pm on ESPN2, and England hosting Slovakia, Monday on FS 2 (following the somewhat less compelling San Marino at Azerbaijan at 11am). There are crucial qualifiers as well in Asia and South America, as we close in on the 32-team field for Russia 2018. Only Brazil and Iran have nailed down their spots so far; several more may do so by this time next week, and the entire field will be set by November.
• USA-Costa Rica: 6pm Friday, Sept. 1 on ESPN.
• Honduras-USA: 4:30pm Tuesday, Sept. 5 on beIN Sports.
The UT Longhorns are 4-0 on the season for just the second time in their history, after another pair of wins last weekend that seemed more decisive than the score indicated: 2-1 over Little Rock, and 1-0 on the road at North Texas. They're on the road again this weekend, at California and Sacramento State. The last time the Horns started 4-0 was 2008, the topper to a five-year stretch when they won seven NCAA playoff games, and ended four seasons ranked in the top 20 in the nation. That year also marked the Horns' eighth consecutive NCAA tournament invite; they've been back only twice in the nine years since then, and haven't finished in the national rankings again... The ninth-ranked St. Edward's men open their season hosting Metro State Denver (Fri., 3pm) and the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers (Sun., 1pm) on the St. Ed's campus. The 23rd-ranked women host Metro State at 1pm Saturday.
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