The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/sports/2017-10-06/soccer-watch/

Soccer Watch

By Nick Barbaro, October 6, 2017, Sports

The UT Longhorns had the first blemish on their perfect season Sunday, as they were held to a scoreless draw at Oklahoma, despite holding the Sooners without a shot on goal and rattling two shots off the woodwork. Still, at 11-0-1, they rose a spot in the polls to seventh in the nation, and even got one first-place vote in the United Soccer Coaches poll. The Horns' next-to-last home game of the year is this Friday at 7pm at Myers Stadium hosting 9-4 TCU.


Lots of international news this week, and it's not all World Cup qualifying, where more than half of the field for next summer's tournament will be decided over the next six days, in 92 games across all five major continents.

Closest to home, the U.S. hosts Panama this Friday, Oct. 6 (6:30pm on ESPN2 and Univision Deportes) in the biggest game they've played in years. Panama have never qualified for the WC; they will probably clinch a spot at Russia 2018 with an upset win in Orlando. Win or lose, though, U.S. chances will come down to the group finale at 7pm Tuesday in Trinidad; that game is only available on DirecTV and BeIN Sports. The U.S. currently sits in fourth place in the six-team group. As it stands, they're in line for an intercontinental playoff series in November against either Syria or Australia (the Asian fifth-place team) for the last spot in the 32-team field. Two wins would lift them to third, avoiding the playoff, but anything less than that leaves them in danger of dropping to fifth and out altogether… WCQ wraps up as well in Europe, South America, and Asia this week. Multiple European games are airing each day, Thu.-Tue., on Fox Sports 1 and 2, ESPN Deportes, and Fox Deportes at 11am and 1:45pm, and many more are available on ESPN3 and other streaming sites. Some African and South American games are on BeIN.


Meanwhile in Catalonia: Voters went for secession from Spain by 90% in a disputed referendum Sunday; the region has been torn by riots, federal police violence, and a massive general strike since then, and may declare independence any day now, and the turmoil has played out in the soccer world as well. Barcelona strongly supports Catalan independence (unlike crosstown rivals Espanyol), and Barca star Gerard Pique, a longtime defensive stalwart for Spain, has been booed by Spanish fans and talked of retiring ahead of these upcoming WCQ games. Meanwhile, Barca was forced by the Spanish league to host a game in an empty stadium during last week's unrest, and has been notified they'll no longer be welcome in La Liga if secession goes through.

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