Injury (DeAndre Yedlin, Tyler Adams) and club situation (Josh Sargent, Christian Pulisic?) mar what could otherwise be a pretty solid weekend of viewing action for USMNT fans. If things play out well it could still be a solid weekend so here’s what we’re watching:
Schalke 04 v Mainz 05 - 2:30p on FS2
Weston McKennie came off the bench for Schalke last weekend, reportedly because he had been suffering from a stomach bug and the team wanted to ease him back in. He should be available this weekend as Schalke face a Mainz team with one win and three losses through their first four games. Mainz main issue seems to be their defense which has given up a league leading 13 goals, though this is heavily influenced by the six that Bayern Munich run up. Mainz most recently held Hertha Berlin to just one goal which was enough to win and secure their first points of the season.
Schalkehad been suffering from the reverse problem until last weekend, managing to score just one goal themselves (in addition to two gifted own goals) through their first three games. However, last weekend they broke out with five goals against Paderborn and currently sit in sixth place coming off back-to-back wins. Presuming that McKennie makes his way back into the lineup it would be good to see that the offense doesn’t come grinding back to a halt even if it does return to more normal levels.
Necaxa v Leon - 6p on ESPN Deportes
While it’s likely to be overlooked, in part because Ventura Alvarado continues to be overlooked by the USSF, the game of the day on Saturday really should be Alvarado’s Necaxa team facing off against Leon in Liga MX. Currently Necaxa are tied for first place in the league though they do have a game in hand with the two teams they are tied with. Necaxa have a well balanced team, leading the league in goals scored and defensively they are sound as well. The defense is anchored by Alvarado at the back and he has also been named the team captain in every match this season. As if that weren’t enough Alvarado has also chipped in with two goals on the season. While not particularly young, having just turned 27, Alvarado hasn’t aged out yet and it would seem to make sense to take a good look at a player having an impact on the first place Liga MX team.
This weekend Necaxa will be facing William Yarbrough’s Leon, though Yarbrough has yet to see the field this season. Currently Leon are in fifth place and have also not lost in their last five games.
- Josh Sargent saw twenty minutes off the bench last weekend for a Werder Bremen team looking to secure their second straight win. It was Sargent’s third appearance in four games, only one of which was a start. Werder Bremen will meet league leading RB Leipzig at 12:30p on FS2. RB Leipzig are coming off a midweek 2-1 win over Benfica in Champions League group play and a 1-1 draw over Bayern Munich last weekend in league play. Rumors are that Tyler Adams is getting closer to return (I would certainly hope he’s at least getting closer), but Leipzig remain without his services this weekend.
- According to sources very close to the situation DeAndre Yedlin will apparently be available for Newcastle United this weekend as they take on Brighton & Hove Albion at 12:30 on NBC. With just four points through five games Newcastle look like they could have a relegation fight ahead of them and a positive result against another floundering team could be very important down the road.
Chelsea v Liverpool - 11:30a on NBCSN
Sooo, this is not ideal... Christian Pulisic was an unused sub for Chelsea both midweek, in their 1-0 loss to Valencia in Champions League group play, and last weekend in the teams 5-2 win over the Wolverhampton Wanderers. Reportedly this was in part due to Pulisic’s travels to the US for the international break but you’ll forgive us if that doesn’t put us at ease, particularly given that Pulisic returned from the break early to rejoin his team. Perhaps the injury suffered to Mason Mount early in the Champions League match will give Pulisic some additional opportunity but Mount may be available already this weekend and it’s looking like Pulisic will need to make the most of any opportunities he’s given if he’s going to carve out a role with the team.
Chelsea are undefeated in their last four league games following an opening day loss to Manchester United and currently sixth place. However, they’ll be facing a Liverpool team this weekend that has won every match they’ve played this season while outscoring their opponents 15-4.
- Fabian Johnson missed last weekend’s match for Borussia Monchengladbach with a back injury and was out again midweek for Europa League play. Given the nature of the injury it’s hard to say for certain but seems unlikely that he would return this weekend when the team faces Zack Steffen and Fortuna Dusseldorf at 9:30a on FS1. Steffen and Dusseldorf are coming off a 1-1 draw with Wolfsburg.
- Timothy Chandler received his first start in over a year last weekend in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-1 loss to FC Augsburg and made a substitute appearance midweek in the team’s 0-3 Europa League loss to Arsenal. Squad rotation could mean that Chandler will receive a healthy amount of minutes again this weekend when Frankfurt faces Borussia Dortmund at Noon on FS1.
- The final game of the weekend has the Portland Timbers meeting Minnesota United at 3:55p on ESPN. Jorge Villafana and Jeremy Ebobisse could see time for a Portland team sitting just outside the playoff picture while Ike Opara and Mason Toye will see time for Minnesota.