Crunch time across Europe means teams are starting to look at opportunities to clinch Champions League spots, Promotion opportunities, or conversely to have their relegation fates sealed. A number of these opportunities feature USMNT players (and could impact even more) and can be seen on T.V. this weekend, here’s what we’re watching:
Typically we only look at games on major networks featuring USMNT players but this Friday there are no games that meet both criteria so we’re giving you two alternatives:
Hoffenheim v Hannover 96 - 2:30p on FS2
Your first option for Friday is to catch a game that should be widely available but won’t feature any USMNT players. It could however impact USMNT players as we look to Eurpoean Competition next year. Currently Hoffenheim sit in 5th place, three points ahead of Timothy Chandler’s 7th place Eintracht Frankfurt. If Frankfurt are going to make European Competition next season their going to need to turn things around themselves but also get some help. Hoffenheim loosing on Friday would be a step in the right direction.
Fulham v Sunderland - 2:45p on ESPN+
The second option for Friday is to catch a game that does feature a couple USMNT player but is only available with a separate streaming subscription. If you’ve not yet opted for a free trial of ESPN+ it’s still being offered, otherwise the subscription will cost you a beer ($5) for a month or a small pizza party ($50) for a yearly subscription. Tim Ream and Fullham currently sit in 3rd place in the EFL Championship table. Fullham have secured enough points to guarantee themselves a Promotion Playoff spot and are just one point behind Cardiff City for second place and automatic promotion to the Premier League. USMNT member Tim Ream has been a huge part of the run for a Fullham team that hasn’t lost since December when they played... Sunderland.
Sunderland sit at the opposite end of the table and while they aren’t guaranteed to be relegated it would take a minor miracle for them to avoid it, including winning both of their remaining games and none of the three teams above them picking up a win or even a draw (Bolton) or two (Barnsley or Burton Albion). American Lynden Gooch has one year remaining on his contract with Sunderland and it will be interesting to see if he stays with the team next year in League 1 or if he looks to make a move.
Liverpool v Stoke City - 7:30a on NBCSN
Speaking of looking destined for relegation, Geoff Cameron and Stoke City seem likely headed for the Championship, they are four points from safety with three games remaining while the four teams ahead of them have also played one fewer game and will thus have one more opportunity to collect points through the end of the season. They’ll certainly have their work cut out for them this weekend taking on third place Liverpool though things do get a bit easier for their final two games. Geoff Cameron did not make the field for Stoke last weekend.
Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt - 9:30a on FS2
Eintracht Frankfurt have been headed the wrong direction, losers of 3 of their last 5, and falling to 7th in the Bundesliga table, just outside of European competition. If they’re going to make up the necessary points they’ll have their work cut out for them, starting with a match-up against Bayern Munich who wouldn’t seem to have must to play for but that hasn’t slowed them down since mid season and they may want to make a good first impression for new coach Niko Kovac who will be manning the other half of the pitch on Saturday.
Timothy Chandler was arguably the hottest USMNT member playing top flight soccer for a portion of the season but has cooled off since, even being rotated out on occasion. He played the full 90 in last weekends 3-0 loss to Hertha Berlin.
Schalke 04 v Borussia Mönchengladbach - 9:30a on Univision Deportes
Shalke sit in second place in the Bundesliga and have a chance to wrap up their Champions League spot this weekend with a win, tie, or even a loss if Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig fail to get a result.
Weston McKennie has been getting more and more playing time since returning from injury and as the season winds down. With Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka both leaving Schalke this Summer it’s looking likely that McKennie will get significant playing time next year including some Champions League action. It will also be interesting to see if Nick Taitague is able to work himself into the picture and perhaps become a third American playing for a Champions League caliber Bundesliga club.
Newcastle v West Bromwich Albion - 10a on CNBC
The only European game featuring a USMNT player that you can easily watch this weekend that doesn’t involve some sort of relegation / promotion / qualifying fight instead features the most consistent USMNT starter in DeAndre Yedling who has now seen the field in 30 straight games including 28 starts during that time.
Newcastle sit smack dab in the middle of the Premier League table with no realistic shot at qualifying for European competition and safe from the relegation battle.
Philadelphia Union v D.C. United - 3:30p on Univision Deportes
Not the most exciting of match-ups on paper, both the Philadelphia Union and DC United have managed just one win through their first six games and both teams have been struggling offensively, with the Union managing just 3 goals (not exactly a ringing endorsement of Alejandro Bedoya and company).
All those warnings aside this game actually does give an opportunity to catch some younger Americans who have been given ample opportunity to prove themselves early on in the season. Auston Trusty (19) and Matthew Real (18) have gotten a number of starts already this season along with senior member Keegan Rosenberry (24). On the D.C. United side of things Chris Durkin has appeared in all six games with two starts and Ian Harkes is another Homegrown player with 2 appearances including one start.
Pachuca v Atlas - 8:06p on ESPN Deportes
Omar Gonzalez started and went 90 minutes last weekend for Pachuca in their scoreless draw with Queretaro. Kekuta Manneh has only seen the field once this season in Liga MX, for all of 8 minutes. Currently Pachuca sit in ninth place in a pretty crowded middle tier of Liga MX.
Guadalajara v Leon - 10:06p on Univision Deportes
Momentary interruption for a semi-serious question: Is there a reason the Liga MX games start at six past the hour? I assume there is and I guess I’m just wondering if there’s an interesting story behind it.
And we’re back! To the Future! Or is it the Past?!? Whatever, Landon Donovan and Leon take on Guadalajara Saturday night. Landycakes got his first start of the season at the beginning of April and played 61’ in the loss but hasn’t seen the field since. William Yarbrough has been getting consistent starts for Leon and should probably be included in the USMNT goalkeeper discussions given the lack of a clear cut front runner.
Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund - Noon on FS2
Similar to Schalke, Borussia Dortmund could wrap up a Champions League spot this weekend, though they’ll need a win and either a loss or a tie by Hoffenhiem in order to do so. Christian Pulisic has looked back to his old self as of late, picking up an assist on their opening goal last weekend as well as drawing a penalty that Marco Reus was unable to convert.
Aron Johannsson was back on the field for Werder Bremen last weekend, getting 20 minutes as a substitute the 2-0 loss to Stuttgart. A win or loses by any of Wolfsburg, Mainz, or Frienburg would guarantee Werder Bremen’s spot in the Bundesliga for next season which will hopefully result in more opportunities for both Johannsson as well as Josh Sargent to get some top tier experience.
Colorado Rapids v Orlando City S.C. - 4:00p on ESPN
Orlando City come into the game winners of four straight thanks to a resurgent attack that has averaged three goals a game over that time. Americans Chris Mueller, Sacha Kljestan, and Dom Dwyer each picked up a goal in their most recent match, a 3-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
Tim Howard and the Colorado Rapids meanwhile lost their last game 3-0 to Real Salt Lake after Howard was shown the red card in the 20th minute for his handball outside of the box.
Los Angeles Football Club v Seattle Sounders - 9:00p on FS1
LAFC come off their second straight win a 5-3, defense optional, game against the Montreal Impact. In terms of American’s represented Benny Feilhaber chipped in with one of the 5 goals while Walker Zimmerman was part of the porous LAFC defense that allow a first half hat trick to Ignacio Piatti.
The Seattle Sounders picked up their first win of the season against Minnesota United who are going to get a reputation as slump busters if they’re not careful, a week prior they gave the Portland Timbers their first will as well. Cristian Roldan had two assists for Seattle in the win and was once again joined in the starting lineup by younger brother Alex who would later be replaced by Clint Dempsey who picked up the assist on Seattle’s third goal.