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AUSTIN — Professional soccer arrived in the city of Austin with all the necessary pieces in place to make the sport a smashing success. The United Soccer League’s newest expansion franchise — Austin Bold FC — began this season with a beautiful 5,000-plus seat stadium built at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) and even had an instant rivalry ready to go with nearby San Antonio FC. Austin also opened its inaugural season with plenty of rabid fans, which witnessed the first win in club history in Bold FC’s sold-out home opener against San Antonio on March 30. The lone goal of the 1-0 triumph was scored by Kleber off an assist by defender Sean McFarlane. Just like that, Austin Bold claimed the opening leg of the Central Texas Derby — a series between Austin and San Antonio that will continue throughout the season. In addition to that prize, the Copa Tejas will be up for grabs for the top USL team in the Lone Star State — a field that also includes both El Paso Locomotive and Rio Grande Valley FC. Austin Bold head coach Marcelo Serrano has already said he enjoys having such emotionally-charged matches on the schedule.s reminding everyone that the blues is alive and well. “When you have a derby [rivalry] situation, one team doesn’t live without the other,” Serrano said. “It’s like a brotherhood because one team pushes the other to become the best.” Serrano has assembled a diverse roster of international players that includes Brazilian forward Kleber, who tallied the first goal in franchise history in a 2-1 loss on the road to Reno 1868 FC. Also present is team captain and midfielder Dario Conca, an Argentinian who was named Footballer of the Year in the Brazilian first division in 2010 and Chinese Super

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League in 2013. In all, Austin Bold’s initial roster features players of 14 different nationalities, many of which have worldwide pedigrees. Austin’s recent performance has drawn praise from around the USL, including from San Antonio FC head coach Darren Powell. “They have an extremely talented group of players,” Powell said. “Several have played at a very high level.” Bobby Epstein, who owns Austin Bold and COTA, was thrilled to see his team capture a victory over San Antonio in its very first home match, which was also the first professional soccer match played in Austin since the Aztex folded three years ago. Serrano said it was a fitting start to an I-35 rivalry that will hopefully last for years to come. “You can see that they made our victory very hard,” Serrano said. “They came for a derby game — they didn’t give us any options.” The USL is directly below Major League Soccer in the United States and is a 36-team league divided equally into two conferences. SAFC and Austin Bold are both in the Western Conference alongside the other two Texas teams. All USL clubs play a 34-game regular season schedule, both home and away against the other 17 teams in their conference, stretching from March to October. Playoffs follow for the 10 teams from each conference that qualify, with the USL Championship match taking place sometime between Nov. 10-14.

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TSM: Johnathan & Nick, thanks for taking the time to speak with is this month. I wanted to reach out to you for your work you do with the kids and the Austin Horns.Tell us about this League and how this idea came about. AHB: TSM: How long have you and Nick DeSantiago been running the Austin Horns? AHB: TSM: Describe the younger teams 9-12 &up. Are these kids coming in with a basic understanding of the fundamentals of the game or is that the focus for your staff as coaches at this level? AHB: TSM: Tell us about the new facility I hear at has around 8,000 sq. feet and located in South Austin. AHB: TSM: Lowell Galindo is also a coach out there at Austin Horns Baseball.How many Longhorns coach out there? HB:

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TSM: Talk about some of the select baseball teams with the older kids. I hear that your Showcase teams will play tournaments through Perfect Game & Texas Showcase League events at college venues like Texas State, UTSA, and Southwestern University. Can you expand on these opportunities? AHB: TSM: How do kids or parents get to tryout with the Austin Horns? AHB: TSM: When is the next upcoming camp for Austin Horns? AHB: TSM: Final shout out to coaches and student athletes and parents in the Austin Metro Area. What would you like them to know about the Austin Horns organization? AHB: TSM: Jon & Nick thanks for your time, we appreciate what you guys are doing with these kids in the Austin area. Hook Em!

Lil’Jordan Humphrey wasn’t exactly expected to become a generational talent at Texas, though that’s essentially what he ultimately evolved into. In 2016, Humphrey stepped foot on the Forty Acres hardly ranked within the top 400 in his class. In 2018, Humphrey capped his tenure at Texas with 86 receptions for 1,176 yards, ranking as the fifth- and third-best single-season efforts in school history, respectively. Humphrey rewarded himself accordingly, announcing his departure for the NFL after three seasons in Austin, which, in turn, leaves the Longhorns looking elsewhere in hopes of replacing even a notable portion of Humphrey’s substantial productivity. Save for a considerable surprise, no single player is going to match Humphrey’s 2018 campaign in the slot. Rather, we’re almost certain to see contributions by committee and to that end, Texas isn’t without top-tier talent at slot receiver, albeit raw, tremendously inexperienced talent. On paper, Texas will present one former high school AllAmerican after another, but of the options the Longhorns are expected to have on hand, only one has semi-notable collegiate experience in the slot — Joshua Moore. A former top 100 talent out of Yoakum, Moore saw action in six games last season before missing the Baylor game due to illness, and ultimately, suffering a shoulder sprain in practice that sidelined Moore for the remainder of his freshman season. Prior to that point, Moore hauled in just seven receptions for 53 yards and one score, but he boasts that kind of blazing speed and open-field shiftiness that’s typically preferred in the slot, which has helped him maintain the starting role throughout the spring. As we learned last season, though, that speed isn’t an absolute requirement for the Longhorns, in particular, so the experience edge Moore owns may be his biggest benefit over an option such as early enrollee Bru McCoy. The top-ranked athlete in the 2019 class, per the 247Sports Composite, and the recipient of prestigious honors such as the Maxwell Award and the MaxPreps National Player of the Year, McCoy originally inked his NLI with USC in early January, only to transfer to Texas weeks later in the aftermath of the tremendously short-lived Kliff Kingsbury era in Los Angeles. In doing so, McCoy suddenly provided Texas with a seemingly ideal replacement for the hybrid slot the Horns had in Humphrey last season, which is exactly the pitch Texas put forth throughout the recruiting process. “That’s what we talked to him about (during the process), what role you can fill for us,” Texas receivers coach Drew Mehringer told 247Sports Steve Wiltfong. “They’re similar body types, LJ is a little taller, Bru a little faster, similar skill sets and I was like oh my god, LJ is in the draft I got a great role for you.” Though the 6’3, 215-pound McCoy doesn’t fit the mold of your stereotypical slot on paper, the same could have been said of Humphrey -- Texas simply found a role for him to ensure one

of their top talents was on the field. As Texas aims to fill the void Humphrey left behind, expect the Longhorns to look to do much of the same with McCoy, who utilized his physical, yet shifty skill set to the tune of 1,428 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. That is, of course, contingent upon McCoy’s pending eligibility appeal, as he’s technically a transfer and would be required to sit out next season without a waiver. Fortunately for Texas, the Horns are set to have an embarrassment of riches at slot receiver, and maybe the most ideal fit is still yet to step foot on the Forty Acres. One of the first members of Texas’ 2019 class, Scottsdale (Az.) Notre Dame Preparatory receiver Jake Smith, too, will arrive in Austin with some hardware, as the top 50 talent nationally took home honors as the Gatorade National Player of the Year. The recognition came after the four-star pass-catcher compiled 1,112 yards and 22 touchdowns through the air and another 741 yards and 15 scores out of the backfield -- and Smith produced this in addition to his efforts as a punter, punt returner, kick returner, and defensive back. “Jake Smith, the numbers speak for themselves. He’s a Gatorade National Offensive Player of the Year,” Herman said during his early signing day press conference. “He can do everything: run it, catch it, return it, play DB, I’m sure he could drive the bus to the away games if you needed him to. Multi-sport athlete. Excels at lacrosse, as well. Just excited about his versatility.” In terms of skill set, the 6’1 Smith boasts elite burst, notable cut-and-go ability, more than his share of shiftiness in space, and the kind jaw-dropping speed that may be unparalleled by any receiver on the roster. In one word, Smith is dynamic, which is something that could prove to be an ideal complement to an otherwise largely big-bodied receiving cast featuring talents such as Collin Johnson (6’6), Malcolm Epps (6’6), Brennan Eagles (6’4), Al’Vonte Woodard (6’3), and McCoy (6’3), just to name a select few. The issue at hand for Smith, of course, is that he’s a summer arrival aiming to vie for reps in a receiver room that will already feature the two aforementioned elite prospects in Moore and McCoy. That said, Smith presents plenty of elite potential in his own right, providing Texas with yet another option at a position that will almost certainly see contributions by committee, as opposed to an outright feature slot as Texas has last season in Humphrey.

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This edition of TSM covers local High School Baseball Playoffs as well as NBA action as the playoffs continue. THE NFL Draft, Big 12 Power R...


This edition of TSM covers local High School Baseball Playoffs as well as NBA action as the playoffs continue. THE NFL Draft, Big 12 Power R...