MLS is back in action this weekend kicking off the 2021 season in full force starting Friday evening. There are a handful of games on broadcast networks this weekend and as in the past any games not covered by the broadcast outlets will be available on ESPN+. It seems that nearly every team has some level of USMNT / USYNT potential so the folks at Scuffed put together a nice little cheat sheet to look at how much you should care about each team:
usmnt relevance power rankings ahead of tonight's mls opener pic.twitter.com/IPS2n8dkeJ— ol velasquez (@away_goals) April 16, 2021
Given the high volume of matches we’ll probably be tweaking the “Behind the paywall” section over the next few weeks to make it a little more manageable.
All this and we haven’t even mentioned Sergino Dest looking to lift his first trophy with Barcelona as the club faces Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Ray final on Saturday afternoon. It really is a packed weekend so let’s get to it.
RB Leipzig v Hoffenheim - 2:30p on ESPN+
Tyler Adams and Chris Richards face off in this weekends edition of American’s facing off in the Bundesliga (AFOITB), probably need to work on a better name for that. Tyler Adams started last weekends 4-1 drubbing of Werder Bremen but did come off at halftime with some back issues. However, he was back in training this week so it seems it was largely precautionary and he could be available this weekend. Leipzig did pick up two points on Bayern Munich thanks to their own win coupled with Bayern’s draw with Union Berlin. However, they remain five points back with six games to play.
Chris Richards also started last weekend and went the full 90’ as Hoffenheim played to a scoreless draw with Bayer Leverkusen. Richards has now played just under seven hundred minutes over eight matches since joining Hoffenheim in January. The club is winless in their past four matches but remain in twelfth place in the Bundesliga.
- The reigning Western Conference Champion Seattle Sounders kick off their 2021 campaign Friday night at 9:30p on FS1 when they take on a Minnesota United team that they defeated in the Western Conference Finals.
Looking through the paywall:
- Timothy Weah and Lille look to continue their title run when they face Montpellier at 3p in a match that can be seen on beIN Sports or Fanatize USA.
- The Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes kick off the MLS season at 8p on ESPN+. Former USYNT coach Tab Ramos leads the Dynamo while Jackson Yueill, Cade Cowell, and Chris Wondolowski take the field for the Earthquakes.
Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona - 3:30p on ESPN+
Barcelona are coming off a disappointing loss to Real Madrid and now sit in third place in the league standings behind both Madrid teams though only two points back of first place Atletico. The two teams will have a chance to widen that gap this weekend as they will play in league action while Barcelona will look to hoist the first trophy of the season when they face Atheltic Bilbao in the Copa del Ray final on Saturday afternoon. Bilbao are in 11th place in the La Liga standings and are winless in their last five matches so a result against Barcelona would be a significant upset but as we all know anything can happen in a one match scenario and Barcelona would be wise not to let their guard down against a team that already defeated them in the Spanish Supercup.
- Orlando City SC and Atlanta United start their respective seasons at 3p on TUDN and Unimas. Tune in to see if Orlando City have enough fire power to move on from Daryl Dike or to watch the Atlanta United trio that won’t be playing in the Olympics because their team wouldn’t release them for qualifying.
- Austin FC begin their inaugural season with a matchup against Bob Bradley and Western Conference heavyweights LAFC in a match that will be on Fox at 6p. This one should offer plenty of goals.
Looking through the paywall:
- Just 6’ last weekend for Matthew Hoppe for a Schalke side that hung on for a 1-0 victory over Augsburg. The team faces Freiburg at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Pellegrino Matarzzo and Stuttgart face Union Berlin at 9:30a on ESPN+ in a match that is a must win if they are going to sneak into Europa League qualification.
- John Brooks and Wolfsburg will get their shot at Bayern Munich at 9:30a on ESPN+ in a matchup of top three teams.
- Christian Pulisic looks to have found his form recently and could matchup against Zack Steffen who has started every FA Cup match for Manchester City thus far. The teams meet in the semifinals at 12:30p on ESPN+.
- Owen Otasowie has seen just four minutes since the start of the year for the Wolverhampton Wanderers who face last place Sheffield United at 3:15p on Peacock.
- FC Dallas and their young crew will take on Kellyn Acosta and the Colorado Rapids at 8p on ESPN+.
- DC United and NYCFC face off at 8p on ESPN+. Both sides have some intriguing younger players that could make a move.
- Aaron Long and the New York Red Bulls take on Sporting KC at 8p on ESPN+. Catch Caden Clark stateside before he heads to Leipzig next January.
- Nashville SC and Walker Zimmerman face off with Cincinnati at 8:30p on ESPN+.
- The Chicago Fire and New England Revolution face off at 8:30p on ESPN+ with the man to watch in this one being Goalkeeper Matt Turner.
Borussia Dortmund v Werder Bremen - 9:30a on ESPN+
Our second AFOITB of the weekend features Giovanni Reyna and Borussia Dortmund facing off with Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen. Dortmund were sent home from the Champions League this week, loosing 2-1 (4-2 on aggregate) to Manchester City and look unlikely to appear in the competition next season given that they are seven points back of qualification with just six to play. This could mean major changes to the club for next season with Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, and Reyna all potentially on the move.
Werder Bremen are coming into this one off a rough 4-1 loss to RB Leipzig in league play last weekend though the club does look safe from relegation. Sargent started and went 83’ in the loss and is now over 2,000 minutes on the season.
- Antonee Robinson and Fulham cling to hopes of avoiding relegation but are now six points back of Newcastle United with a game in hand and will have their work cut out for them this weekend when they face Arsenal at 8:30a on NBCSN.
- Sebastian Saucedo started and went 74’ for Pumas UNAM last weekend in their 1-0 win over Necaxa, The team faces Tigres UANL at 1p on ESPN Deportes.
- Inter Miami kick off their second season against Julian Araujo and the LA Galaxy at 3p on ABC.
- Gyasi Zardes and Darlington Nagbe face the Philadelphia Union at 5:30p on FS1. Unfortunately Aiden Morris suffered what appears to be a significant knee injury in Thursdays CCL win for Columbus.
Looking through the paywall:
- Weston McKennie came off the bench, immediately made a very well timed run and easy finish to score another goal for Juventus last weekend. The team have another important match for Champions League qualifying purposes when they play fourth place Atalanta at 9a on ESPN+. The top four teams will make the Champions League but fifth place Napoli remains just three points back of Juventus.
- Bryan Reynolds received his first Serie A start last weekend for Roma and could see more minutes this weekend as the club balances a busy European schedule having played on Thursday. The team faces 17th place Tornio at Noon on ESPN+.
- Yunus Musah and Valencia face Real Betis at 12:30p on beIN Sport and Fanatiz USA.
There you have it: a very, very solid slate of action this weekend. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments below.