Austin Aztex Soccer
Aztex overwhelm El Paso Patriots 6-1 in home opener
Well, it sure wasn’t the 0-0 outcome that American soccer fans fear.
The Austin Aztex made their 2012 season home debut Saturday, winning over 6-1 over the El Paso Patriots at House Park. Even though the outcome of the match became readily apparent before halftime, there was plenty of drama and excitement to keep the crowd of 2,507 legitimately entertained through at least 75 of the 90 minutes.
It only took the Aztex a little more than 15 minutes to score the first goal, and it came with a particularly unusual prelude. Ketuka Manneh, the 17-year-old forward (and Lake Travis High School student), now henceforth known as “The Most Fun Aztex Player to Watch,” took a long pass in from Zack Pope, and on his way to a sure goal was tackled (as in an American football-style diving arms-first tackle) by Patriot goalie Victor Rodriguez.
Even though the outcome of the match became readily apparent before halftime, there was plenty of drama and excitement to keep the crowd of 2,507 legitimately entertained through at least 75 of the 90 minutes.
The referee gave Rodriguez a red card for the challenge, and Tony Rocha greeted oncoming substitute keeper Ivan Meza with a successful penalty kick to make it 1-0.
Four minutes later, Jesus “Chuy” Cortes, another "Most Fun to Watch" contender, looped a perfect pass to Kristopher Tyrpak, who put his head (and snazzy headband) on the ball for his first of three goals on the night.
And the fun was just beginning. Five minutes later, Cortes had another pretty assist on William Morse’s goal to make it 3-0. Three minutes after that, a Patriots would-be goal was disallowed for an offside violation; Ernesto Bolivar didn't let being on the sidelines stop him from making a spirited rebuttal to the call, and receiving a yellow card for his input. Just before the half ended, David Salas, who received the game’s first yellow card just ten minutes into the game, got sent off for a second yellow, on a foul which came after several instances of I-dare-you-to-eject-me petulance.
The Aztex, starting the second half with a three-goal lead and playing 11 vs. nine, made the Patriots’ bus ride home that much worse with Tyrpak and Manneh scoring to make it 5-0. The Patriots’ Naoyas Aizawa converted a rare Aztex defensive lapse into a moral victory goal in the 64th minute, but Tyrpak answered four minutes later to complete his hat trick, and at 6-1, the Aztex pretty much went into passing drill mode for the remainder of the game.
“Regarding the attendance, we were pleasantly surprised. We know Austin has some very passionate soccer fans,” said Aztex spokesperson Stephen Rodriguez. “Saturday's attendance indicated that many people missed having a local soccer team to support. Whether at the USL Pro level or PDL level, the passion for the game is there, and we're happy to be Austin's soccer team.”
The fans (many wearing jerseys repping their favorite EPL or national teams) were generally upbeat and animated throughout the game. The halftime show was on the wan end of the production values spectrum, comprised of four fans from the crowd squaring off in a dizzy rooster/goal shooting competition. But Rodriguez notes the Aztex plan to involve Austin musicians with future halftime shows, and Amy’s Ice Creams and The Peached Tortilla are among the local food vendors who will help feed the fans at future matches.
The Aztex play their next home game this coming Thursday against the Texas Dutch Lions. Every Aztex home game this season starts at 7:30 p.m; ticket info is available at the Aztex website.