Top 10 soccer stories of 2017
The top three all intertwine: After eons with no soccer stadium solution in sight, three different proposals – all privately financed – emerged within a few months. Will any of them materialize? More questions than answers at this point.
1) Columbus Crew moving to Austin? The announcement that Austin might at last get a major-league sports franchise took the town by storm, but their preferred stadium site at Butler Shores (see rendering above) may prove a hard sell.
2) Expo Center reinvented? A group trying to woo the Crew to their own plan unveiled a proposal to build a huge complex at the Travis County Expo Center, with the stadium itself on adjacent private land.
3) USL reboot at COTA? United Soccer League and Circuit of the Americas announced the return of pro soccer to Austin, starting in 2019 at a new 5,000-seat stadium. This would've been the top story of any other year, but the promise of MLS has put plans on hold for now.
4) USA Out of the World Cup! Woe is us, after a humiliating loss to Trinidad. Losers include broadcaster Fox Sports, bars that host watch parties, and two generations of national team players.
5) UT Resurgent! The UT women had their best season in a decade, finishing 14-4-3, and No. 14 in the nation, after advancing to the NCAA third round.
6) Hilltopper Agony! St. Edward's men and women both ended their postseasons with 6-5 shootout losses.
7) Hendrickson Hawks! The Pflugerville Hendrickson girls won the 6A high school state championship – the first title ever for their school in any sport.
8) San Antonio MLS bid dead? San Antonio FC had a strong season on the field and at the box office, but they didn't make the final cut for the four MLS expansion franchises to be added in 2019-22.
9) USA2026? A "United Bid" by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is a heavy favorite to co-host the 2026 World Cup. Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas are among the potential host venues. FIFA decides in June.
10) "A kid from Nacogdoches" Texas' Clint Dempsey, after scoring his 57th career international goal in July: "To be able to say that I'm tied [for] the most goals in national team history, when I'm a kid from Nacogdoches – it feels great."
Five more from overseas, with a heavy emphasis on political unrest
The Catalonian independence movement has threatened to tear apart Spain's national team, and La Liga, as FC Barcelona strongly supports Catalan independence... Three bombs exploded next to the Borussia Dortmund team bus on its way to a European Champions League quarterfinal game, wrecking the bus, hospitalizing one player, and causing a postponement... "Fuck you, I'm Millwall" became an anti-terror rallying cry in England, after a fan of the hardscrabble South London club tore into the three knife-wielding terrorists after the fatal London attack in June... Germany swept the two major tournaments of the summer, the European U-21 Championship and then the FIFA Confederations Cup, in a three-day span, without using most of its biggest stars... Bee trainers at London's Queen Mary University have taught bumblebees to play soccer.