Half the fun of soccer is the rabid, flag-waving, chanting fans in multicolored face paint. And it's hard to get any wilder than the tens of thousands of bloodthirsty ones at Latin American soccer games. But don't rush to your travel agent just yet. There's something in store at Reliant Stadium. Maybe the games at the 2005 Gold Cup will be a little light on the indiscriminate violence, but the action on the field is sure to thrill. And you can still paint your face, should you get that strange urge. The Gold Cup is a biennial tournament featuring 12 teams from across the globe -- including Mexico, Trinidad, South Africa and Honduras -- going head to head at seven American arenas. Winning teams from last week's preliminary games here and around the country will duke it out in two quarterfinals games at Reliant Stadium this weekend. No matter who takes the field, "people can definitely look forward to having that international flair in their backyard," says Kevin Cooper of Reliant Stadium. "Hopefully, minus the fighting," he adds. So says Cooper. We say, let the bloodbath begin! Quarterfinals begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 17. One Reliant Park. For tickets and information, call 713-629-2109 or visit www.texasfutbol.com. $20 to $55. -- Mosi Secret
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We keep hearing how the Astros are "going young" this year, so what better time to get your young'uns ready for the majors? If they're between the ages of five and 12, send 'em to the Jim Wynn Inner City Baseball Clinic, where they'll be schooled in the finer points of the game, like how to bring home a runner from second with only one out. (Maybe they could give the Astros a tutorial.) Along with Wynn, who was known as the Toy Cannon in his 11 seasons with the 'Stros, high school and college coaches will be leading fielding, batting and pitching clinics. After the clinic, stick around for a home run contest, with a new baseball glove up for grabs. Clinic starts at 3 p.m.; home run contest starts at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 17. OFA Little League Field, 4848 Oriole. For information, call 832-875-3009. Free for clinic; $5 for home run contest. -- Greg Barr