By Shelby Cole
The Chicago Red Stars made a pit stop in Austin this week, from Monday, March 25 to Easter Sunday. I spoke with the owner of the Austin Nationals (a local women’s exhibition soccer team), Anna Villarreal, who says that she made the call to host the Red Stars. I emailed her for a clearer comment, but she has yet to respond. From what I gathered from talking to her in the stands, though, she seemed happy to have brought the Red Stars to Austin to train. She and the Red Stars made the call to keep the event hush-hush because A) both the Nationals and the Red Stars didn’t want to spend marketing money they didn’t have, and B) the Red Stars’ time in Austin was for training.
There ended up being around 250 people in attendance at the Lewis-Chen Family Field at St. Edward’s to watch the Red Stars scrimmage the Hilltopper NCAA Team. The crowd was overwhelmingly comprised of young girls of Lonestar FC, a local premier club. The club cancelled Wednesday practice for select age groups so that these young women could see a professional soccer game.
The non-Lonestar crowd was is impressive, given that Red Stars’ big names, Shannon Boxx and Amy LePeilbet of the USWNT, were not at the match. Some audience members — one mother in particular — was frustrated by Boxx and LeP’s absence, as she loudly questioned why she bothered to pick up her kids from school and make the drive to St. Edward’s campus. Her daughters didn’t seem to mind.A team. The crowd was overwhelmingly comprised of young girls of Lonestar FC, a local premier club. The club cancelled Wednesday practice for select age groups so that these young women could see a professional soccer game.
The U.S. Men’s National Team battled Mexico to a single point in Tuesday night’s CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier. The match had every bit of intensity this rivalry promised. While the scoreboard read zeros at the end of the match, the U.S. may view the tie as a victory for several reasons, some of which are listed below.
1. This Mexico team (without it’s top player in Javier Hernandez) won the Olympic Gold Medal in London over a full-strength Brazilian side. Mexico catapulted to #15 in the FIFA World Rankings, yet the United States was able to hold off its rivals in the fortress that is Azteca Stadium. The U.S. had earned only one point in 14 previous qualifiers played in Mexico and were 1-23-1 in Mexico overall prior to last night. The crucial 1 point kept the U.S. in the top three of qualifying, while Mexico remains in the bottom half.
St. Edward’s University’s women’s soccer team moved to 16-1-0 on the season with a win over the St. Mary’s Rattlers. The Hilltopper women are currently ranked 5th in the nation. One reason being the 6-foot, 1-inch Engel’s goal scoring prowess. This was her 13th on the season.
Ric Granryd, the Director of Operations for the Austin Aztex, discussed the future of the Aztex and the organization’s business goals for the coming year. The Austin-based club will likely have a women’s team in the 2013 with help from an outside investor, and the club plans to play in the USL Premier Development League next year, according to Granryd. The Aztex operations director suggested the Aztex could add a professional team in two years for the 2014 season. For the rest of the Q&A, look below for what the future holds for the Aztex and more details on a future women’s and professional team.
By Anthony Mannino
A youthful Texas women’s squad under new head coach Angela Kelly replaces what some thought was a disappointing and disconnected team in 2011. The Longhorn women kick off their season today at Mike A. Myers stadium when they face the Dayton Flyers at 7 p.m. CDT (TV: Longhorn Network).
Kelly, formerly the head coach at University of Tennessee, will have nine true freshmen at her disposal for the upcoming season. Goalkeeper Abby Smith, who will miss the start of the Longhorns season because she will be playing for the U.S. in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, headlines the class of nine true freshmen.
By Anthony Mannino
With the Austin Aztex’s inaugural season over, the club enters the offseason with many speculating whether or not the Aztex will move into the professional ranks next season.
Austin has yet to make an official decision on the matter, but owner David Markley has repeatedly expressed his intentions on bringing pro soccer to the city in the near future.
However, it remains to be seen if the near future is in five years or within the next two years.
If the Aztex do play in the NASL or USL, there are major steps the club must take to prepare for professional soccer. It starts with attracting a talented team, which shouldn’t be too hard for the Aztex. The combination of playing in the city of Austin and Paul Dalglish coaching should be enticing enough for talented players. If the team does go pro, expect a few Aztex PDL players like Ross Kelly and Leone Cruz to be a part of the squad.
By Anthony Mannino
Regardless of what happens this weekend, the Austin Aztex have been successful in their first season on and off the field.
It really didn’t matter that the team made it into playoffs – what is important is staying in Texas’ capital with the Aztex. Austinites proved this season that soccer is a component of the city’s sports culture with the top atmosphere in the Mid South Division, and the fifth best attendance in the USL Premier Development League.
The product on the field matched the support it received off, and Austin finished the season scoring the fourth most goals in the PDL, while giving up the fewest in the Southern Conference. Eventually, the Aztex earned a spot in the playoffs that begins this weekend in Ocala, Fla.
With everything that happened this season, it is hard to narrow down the top moments in the season, but here is my Top 5.
5. Austin’s Opening Game of 2012
The pain that endured Austin soccer fans since Oct. 25, 2010 (when the previous Aztex organization announced their plans to move to Orlando) ended with the new Aztex stepping on the pitch in the Woodlands on May 5, 2012. A band of 20-or-so Eberly’s Army supporters rode a van to WoodForest Stadium so they could sing their hearts out, joyfully praising the new Aztex. For them, the 4-0 beat down Austin put on the Texas Dutch Lions was the icing on the cake. Zack Pope, who previously played for Austin’s PDL team, captained the team, and Beto Papadrea, the 2008 PDL defender of the year, scored the second goal. The super talented youngster Kekuta Manneh put the Lions to sleep when he faked out two Texas Dutch defenders on his way to scoring the final goal. Maybe all of Austin didn’t get to witness it, but this game was a sign of what was to come.