Austin Bold FC held their media day this week, introducing the coach and players who'll begin play in just about six weeks in USL, the second division of U.S. pro soccer. Some of the players were just meeting each other as well, and they won't start practicing together until next week. But if that sounds like a short timeline in which to build a cohesive pro soccer team, no one seems worried, and indeed the team seems built just for this purpose. The 17 players officially on the roster so far represent 11 countries, by my count, and span a wide variety of pro experience at all levels. There are some genuinely major talents nearing the end of their careers (Edson Braafheid, Kléber Giacomazzi, Marcelo Saragosa, Darío Conca), a couple of local boys made good (Sonny Guadarrama, Kris Tyrpak), and the rest are well-traveled international pros in the prime of their careers – arriving here from first-division teams in various nations around the world, or from other USL clubs. It's a solid lineup, with guys who are used to arriving at a new place and fitting into a new situation. So the pieces are there; it'll be up to head coach Marcelo Serrano to make them fit together. Season and single-game tickets are now on sale at AustinBoldFC.com.
The U.S. Men begin a new chapter, under new coach Gregg Berhalter, with a pair of games against Panama (Sun., Jan. 27, 7pm, ESPN2) and Costa Rica (Sat., Feb. 2, 2:30pm, Fox). Lots of new faces: Only 12 players on the 23-man squad have ever played a game for the national team... The U.S. Women kinda stunk in their first tune-ups for this summer's World Cup: a 3-1 loss to host France, and a shaky 1-0 win over Spain leave a lot of room for improvement. Next up: March 2 & 5, England and Brazil.