Sports

Soccer Watch: Timely Soccer Gifts

Soccer Watch: Timely Soccer Gifts

Austin FC, the city's future Major League Soccer club, has launched an introductory line of licensed merchandise – shirts, caps, and hoodies featuring their award-winning design – now available online at AustinFC.Fanatics.com... And/or, for more immediate satisfaction, Austin's other pro soccer team, Austin Bold FC, will start play in the United Soccer League next March with an attractive roster blending local talent, young prospects, and accomplished veterans. Season tickets are already available at AustinBoldFC.com... Want to splurge? How about a trip to Paris to see the Women's World Cup next summer? The draw is this Sat., December 8, at 11am (live on FS2), so that's when you'll know which teams are playing where; tickets are set to go on sale starting Dec. 19 through USSoccer.com, for games running June 7-July 7 in nine cities across France.

Football and Fútbol? Two big stories on the U.S. soccer scene this week: As expected, Columbus Crew coach Gregg Berhalter was tabbed as the U.S. Men's National Team coach, and it was broadly noted that he is what was expected: a longtime MLS and national team player, widely respected, and in the mold of the American system and the "American style" – i.e., the copied-from-the-English style – of physical play, lots of running, and crosses into the box. The MLS Cup Final, meanwhile, features the Portland Timbers and Atlanta United, both coached by South Americans, both fielding largely Latino line-ups, and both playing a distinctly "Latin style": lots of short passes and dribbling, with a central playmaker. It should be a great game between two fun teams, and a great occasion to ponder the split personalities of American f_tball. Saturday, Dec. 8, 7pm on Fox.

European Champions League group stage finales are next week: Tue.-Wed., Dec. 11-12, noon & 2pm on TNT; highlighted by Barcelona vs. Spurs (Tue., 2pm), with the London club likely needing a win in Spain to advance to the final 16.

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