When we started this site in 2015, just before the Austin Aztex (2.0) shut down, we told ourselves we’d stick it out, and try to help keep the soccer flame alive in Austin. Our record on that over the past handful of years is mixed, at best.
If you want to look to someone who has truly kept at it, week in and week out, nobody in this town can hold a candle to Nick Barbaro, author of “Soccer Watch” (and publisher) at the Austin Chronicle. He started the column in 1989, out of frustration at the lack of 1990 World Cup coverage that he wanted himself, saying, “eventually I figured, if I was already going to all that trouble, I might as well make some of that research public, in case there were others out there feeling equally bereft.”
This week he brought that era of steady soccer coverage in Austin to an end:
I’ve been told this is the longest-running soccer column in the nation, and I’ve been reading Mr. Smarty Pants long enough to know not to look a gift fact in the mouth, so I’ll accept that title. But its purpose is done, I think. All that information I dug so hard for is now available at a click; MLS and international soccer are now part of the mainstream sports culture; and Austin has a Major League Soccer team (!!!). So I’m going to declare victory and get outta here (though I may be back from time to time, probably as World Cup Watch, a moniker the column morphed into at times over the years). And starting next week we’ll debut The Verde Report, a new weekly feature by Eric Goodman giving you a look inside Austin FC as we count down the days (23 as of today) until Austin becomes officially a major league city.
That new Verde Report column has some big shoes to fill, but we trust Nick will be looking over their shoulder and keeping them in line. Just like he kept the refs in line from the supporters section at Aztex games, yelling louder and nastier things at them than most of us.
From the Verde Report’s first installment:
While Nick reported on soccer across the globe, “The Verde Report” will focus (almost) exclusively on Major League Soccer’s newest franchise, Austin FC. I invite you to return here each week of the MLS season for the latest news, most interesting quotes, and occasional opinion pertinent to Austin’s first major league sports team.
And a tip for a starter kit for new fans, in this week’s edition:
Readers who find themselves less-than-privy to the particulars of MLS or the notable personalities of the club should look out for next week’s issue of the Chronicle, which will contain a heap of starter-kit info to chew on.
They even have it as one of the Chronicle’s email newsletters; we’re already signed up.
There’s more soccer coverage around Central Texas now than ever, we’ll tell you that for free. A lot of it’s good, some of it’s great, and some of it may even still be around in five, ten, or thirty years. The Chronicle’s stalwart leadership is a foundation on which we’re all standing – and cheering.
Violet Crown Verdict: Two Thumbs Up