We have a rare Serie A clash on Saturday with American’s set to take part in a battle of giants and there is an enormous slate of MLS action on Sunday with conference matches all kicking off at simultaneously with playoff spots on the line. In addition we have some players nearing their return, including Timothy Weah who was on the bench for Lille last weekend. It should be an exciting slate of action so let’s get to it.
Osasuna v Valencia - 3p on ESPN+
Yunus Musah has returned to training and Genarao Gattuso sounds optimistic that he will be available in some role on Friday as Valencia travel to Osasuna. Valencia are coming off a 2-2 draw with Espanyol and currently sit ninth in the La Liga standings while Osasuna sit in sixth place and are coming off a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid. Osasuna were the first club this season to get a point off Madrid thanks in large part to a Karim Benzema missed penalty. Musah’s team picked up four points in two matches without him so there is no need to rush him back but things are sounding good for the young man to start making his return this weekend.
It’s a rare USMNT matchup in Serie A this weekend as two title contenders square off when Sergino Dest’s AC Milan face Juventus and Weston McKennie. Milan and Juventus currently sit in fifth and seventh place respectively and there is some sense that for Juventus in particular the seat is starting to get hot for their manager with a club that considers being a legitimate title contender to be an expectation and not just a loft goal. Juventus have won their past two matches but their opponents were relegation candidate Bologna and the Israel Premier League’s Maccabi Haifa. They will need to start securing some results against higher level competition before there’s any sense of relief in the clubhouse.
Meanwhile, AC Milan are just three points back of league leading Napoli but are coming off a 3-0 loss to Chelsea in Champions League play. Sergino Dest looks to be in line for some more minutes due to preferred right back and club captain Davide Calabria picking up a hamstring injury that is expected to keep him out until January. Perhaps (and hopefully) it is just a sign of rust for a player who has seen such limited minutes for the last several months but Dest has looked pretty rough in his minutes at Milan, including in Wednesday’s loss to Chelsea, and will need to turn things around quickly to avoid falling out of favor.
- Timothy Chandler has seen just 66’ of action across all competitions this year for an Eintracht Frankfurt side who face Bochum at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Kevin Paredes received 14’ off the bench last weekend for Wolfsburg in their 3-2 win over Stuttgart, his fourth appearance of the season. Wolfsburg travel to Augsburg this weekend for a 9:30a kickoff on ESPN+.
- Chelsea used five substitutes in Wednesday’s 3-0 win over AC Milan but Christian Pulisic did not see the field and it seems that minutes will continue to be limited for him ahead of the World Cup despite assisting the winning goal last weekend. Chelsea take on the Wolverhampton Wanderers at 10a on Peacock.
- Borussia Dortmund host Bayern Munich on Saturday at 12:30p on ESPN+. Dortmund have been consistently cautious with Giovanni Reyna this season so he’s unlikely to play a large role even if he is available following the minor injury sustained while with the USMNT in September.
Crystal Palace v Leeds United - 9a on USA Network
Crystal Palace and Leeds United both started their season on the right foot but a month in now it look’s like they are stumbling. Palace have picked up just one win this season and currently sit just above the relegation zone in 17th place. If Chris Richards could quickly work his way back to full health and onto the field for Palace it would go a long way to making USMNT fans feel a bit better about the suddenly rather weak center-back position.
Meanwhile, Jesse Marsch and Leeds have not won a league match since their 3-0 victory over Chelsea and have slipped back to 12th place in the league table. The team held on for a scoreless draw with Aston Villa last weekend despite playing a man down for most of the second half.
- Tim Ream and Fulham look to bounce back from a 4-1 loss to Newcastle when they face West Ham United at 9a on CNBC.
- Orlando City and the Columbus Crew face off at 2:30p on FS1 in a de facto playoff matchup. Aiden Morris and The Crew currently sit in 7th place in the East, the final playoff spot and need a win or a draw over an Orlando side that they currently lead by one point, in order to make the playoffs.
- Eryk Williamson and the Portland Timbers also need a draw or a win to secure their playoff spot as they face a Real Salt Lake side that sit in eighth place and will advance with a win. The teams kick off at 4p on ESPN2.
- Erik Palmer-Brown and Troyes take on Nice at 9a on beIN Sports.
- Joe Scally and Borussia Monchengladbach look to bounce back from an awful 5-1 loss to Werder Bremen when they face Koln at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Jordan Pefok and Union Berlin look to rebound from a loss as well and maintain their top of the table position. They kick off against Pellegrino Matarazzo’s relegation threatened Stuttgart at 1:30p on ESPN+.
- Timothy Weah was on the bench but didn’t see minutes last weekend for Lille. It was a positive step for a player who has struggled with injury early this season. LSOC will face Lens at 2:45p on beIN Sports.
- Luca de la Torre received his most minutes of the season last weekend in Celta Vigo’s 1-0 win over Real Betis. The team will have their work cut out for them this weekend as they face Barcelona at 3p on ESPN+.
MLS mashup (all matches on ESPN+):
All the Eastern Conference matches start at 2:30p this weekend for the final matchday of the season which includes:
- Atlanta United close out their season by hosting New York City FC.
- Chris Brady will reportedly start in goal for the Chicago Fire as they host a New England side that will also miss out on the playoffs.
- DC United put an end to a miserable season when they take on Brandon Vasquez, Matt Miazga, and a Cincinnati side that need a win or a draw to ensure they make the Eastern Conference playoff field.
- DeAndre Yedlin and Inter Miami face Djordje Mihailovic and Montreal, both teams have secured a playoff spot though Montreal could still clinch the top spot in the East with a win and a Philadelphia draw or loss.
- John Tolkin, Aaron Long and the New York Red Bulls have clinched a playoff spot but have lost two straight and would presumably like to move into the playoffs with a little positive momentum. They’ll try to do that as they face a Charlotte side that will just miss out on the playoffs in their inaugural season.
- After making a strong push for the Supporters Shield through the majority of the regular season the Philadelphia Union now need a win on Sunday against Toronto to secure the top spot in the East.
In the Western Conference all the matches will start at 5:30p for Decision Day:
- Austin FC has second place in the Western Conference all wrapped up as they host the Colorado Rapids who have been eliminated.
- Jesus Ferrira, Paul Arriola and FC Dallas host Sporting Kansas City.
- The LA Galaxy close out their season with a trip to Houston.
- Kellyn Acost and LAFC wrapped up the Supporters Shield last weekend and can rest easy moving into a final matchday against Walker Zimmerman and a Nashville side that have clinched their playoff spot as well.
- The Vancouver Whitecaps travel to Minnesota United for another defacto playoff match with Minnesota holding the upper hand as a draw would be enough to see them through.
- Cristian Roldan, Jordan Morris and the Seattle Sounders will miss the playoffs for the first time in their franchises MLS history. They close out their season against the San Jose Earthquakes.