The Aztex hiatus means that we won’t be able to attend professional games in Austin this year, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for soccer fans in central Texas to do. In fact, with a little travel and/or a TV, there’s a lot of footie in store for 2016.
Foreign Leagues: EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, etc.
now through mid-May, resuming in August
You may well already be a fan of one of a team or two in the big foreign leagues, but if not, there’s never been a better time to pick a team. There’s more game, news, and results coverage on TV and the Internet than ever. There’s English games on NBC Sports, German games on Fox Sports, Spanish games on BeIN Sports, and more. And if you’re looking for like-minded fans to watch games with, check out our Supporters’ Groups Directory.
US Women’s Olympic qualifying
Dallas & Houston, February 10-21
The CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the 2016 Summer Olympics women’s soccer competition will be held right here in the Lone Star State. FC Dallas’ Toyota Stadium will host all the Group A games, including all the USA group games. The Houston Dynamo’s BBVA Compass Stadium will host Group B, plus the semifinal and final. (Because two CONCACAF teams will go to Rio this summer, the semifinals are, oddly, the determining games.) “Series” tickets are on sale now; tickets for individual matches went on sale Friday, January 8.
US Men’s Olympic qualifying
Barranquilla & TBD, March
The US Men’s under-23 Olympic team didn’t book their ticket to the Summer Games last year when they had the chance, and now they have a two-legged play-off with Colombia. If you don’t have the frequent-flyer points to travel to either of these exotic locales, you can always join American Outlaws at Haymaker to support the youngsters. Correction: this originally listed Guatemala as the playoff opponent. The senior USMNT does play Guatemala in March, for World Cup 2018 qualifying.
MLS: FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, etc.
Dallas & Houston, March – November
It’s just a few hours from Austin to either of Frisco or Houston to catch an MLS game in a nice soccer-specific stadium. That commute might make season tickets a tough sell, but it’s well worth the trip for a match or two. The league just announced the full 2016 schedule, with plenty of regular season games on TV. Add the league’s online streaming service and you can watch nearly any game you want.
USL: San Antonio, etc.
San Antonio, March – September
Though the Scorpions and NASL are gone from San Antonio, there will be a brand-new USL team, paving the way – Spurs Sports & Entertainment hopes – to an eventual MLS club. And of course the drive to Toyota Park, on the north side of town, is about a third what it takes to get to Dallas or Houston. USL will also have free streams of all their games.
NWSL: Houston Dash, etc.
Houston, April – August
The professional women’s league will be in its landmark 4th season this year, and continues to grow. The stars of the USWNT are spread evenly among all the teams, so any game you go to is bound to have some of the best female players in the world. The Dash, featuring players like Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian, play on the fine grass field at BBVA Compass Stadium. In addition to the chance to see some games live, these games are also all available on YouTube.
American Outlaws National Rally
Austin, May 6-8
AO is coming to ATX for a three-day conference, a rally for chapter leaders and members across the country to assemble and get excited about growing US soccer and American Outlaws. Full details aren’t out yet, but the last rally, in 2011, had speakers like Alexi Lalas and Grant Wahl, plus charities and other networking events.
Copa America Centenario
Houston & across the USA, June 3-26
Endangered by scandal, but finally brought to reality, this tournament of South and Central American teams – plus the US and Mexico – will be a big one. Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Uruguay, to name a few. NRG Stadium in Houston will be the sole Texas host, with three games: a Group A game on Sat., June 11, Mexico vs. a Group C opponent on Mon., June 13, and a semifinal on Tue., June 21 (if the US wins Group A and the quarterfinal, they’ll be in that game). All the games will be televised, of course, and there will surely be watch parties all over town.
France, June 10 – July 10
As if the Copa America weren’t enough, we’ll also have – at virtually the same time – Euro ’16. Despite expansion from 16 to 24 teams, it’s still arguably the biggest tournament after the World Cup. Hosts France, defending champions Spain, World Cup champions Germany, plus Wales, Russia, Iceland, Belgium, so many great teams. Bon voyage if you’re able to travel to France to attend in person, but most of us will be watching at home or in pubs across town.
Foreign club teams touring the States
Locations and dates unknown
We haven’t heard specific announcements yet, but big European clubs playing summer friendlies across America has become an annual tradition. Dallas and Houston are the closest likely venues for those. Perhaps we’ll see more Mexican clubs closer to home, as we had last year with Monterrey vs. Monarcas Morelia at UT, and Guadalajara vs. Pachuca at Dell Diamond.
Brazil, August 3-20
Rounding out the big international tournaments this year is Olympic soccer. For historical IOC vs. FIFA reasons, the men’s tournament is a little lesser than the World Cup, but they do still hand out gold medals to the winners. And the women’s tournament is much closer in prestige to the World Cup, so there will be high expectations and a lot of pressure on Jill Ellis’ squad (who haven’t qualified yet, but surely will). Rumor has it that there are other events that occur as part of the Olympics – “track” and “field” for example, but we have been unable to verify that at this time.
Area College Teams
Austin, August – October
The UT women’s program continues to grow, and their games are played on the beautiful grass field at Mike A. Myers Stadium, overlooking the Austin skyline. The UT men’s club team plays their home games at Whitaker Field. The St. Edward’s Hilltoppers have both a men’s and women’s NCAA team. Admission to see these up-and-coming young athletes is free or very inexpensive.
As you see, although we’ll miss having a team of our own to root for this year, there will be more than enough high-quality, exciting, and entertaining soccer to get us through 2016.