It’s the second weekend of the MLS regular season as players across the US continue to round into form but across the pond is the real second chance as Jesse Marsch begins his second Top Five stint of the season as he looks to guide Leeds United out of playoff relegation beginning Saturday morning. All that and more as we roll through the weekend.
Arminia Bielefeld v Augsburg - 2:30p on ESPN+
The boys in the Bundesliga start things off on Friday afternoon as two American’s battle in a vital relegation scrap when George Bello’s Arminia Bielefeld face Ricardo Pepi and Augsburg. Ricardo Pepi was the big splash transfer from MLS this January, moving to Augsburg for a cool $20M in January. Since the move Pepi has started three matches (including last weekend’s draw with Borussia Dortmund), subbed on in three, and missed one due to international travel back from the frozen lands of Minnesota. Pepi has struggled at times, is still looking for his first goal contribution for his new club, and his team has won just once since he joined the side (unfortunately this was also the game he missed). Having said all that, his club has invested in him heavily from a financial standpoint and have every reason to continue to give him opportunities to succeed. Augsburg currently sit in 15th place, tied on points with 16th place Hertha Berlin though with a substantial goal differential advantage.
George Bello also made the move to the Bundesliga in the January transfer window though his move to Bielefeld was less heralded. Bello has subbed on in three of four matches since joining Bielefeld, though like Pepi his team’s only win has come in his absence. Bielefeld currently sit in 14th place, just two points ahead of Augsburg and Hertha.
Leicester City v Leeds United 7:30a on USA
We don’t often highlight managers but it isn’t often that an American manager is making his Premier League debut. Four months after getting sacked less than halfway through his Bundesliga managerial debut Jesse Marsch is taking the wheel at Leeds United. Marsch has some large shoes to fill, taking over for club legend Marco Bielsa who led the club up from relegation in 2020 and drove them to a ninth place finish in the Premier League last season but has been unable to maintain that level this year as Leeds have fallen to 16th place and are just two points out of the relegation spots. They have also played more matches than the two teams just below them in the standings so could be passed and drop into 18th without losing. Marsch will certainly have his hands full both in terms of needing quick results, dealing with the stigma of being an American manager, and replacing Bielsa but he seems to be taking it all in stride and has a solid mentality.
Marsch will make his Premier League debut Saturday morning as Leeds face Leicester City who currently sit in 12th place but could jump up the table several spots as they have a number of games in hand relative to those around them in the table. Leicester are coming off a 2-0 win over Burnley.
- Christian Pulisic appears to be rounding back in to form for Chelsea but minutes management seem to always be an issue so don’t be surprised if he doesn’t start against relegation threatened Burnley on Saturday, the match will be played at 10a on USA.
- Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig face Freiburg at 9:30a on ESPN in a massive match for Champions League qualification. The two teams are tied with 40 points, with Leipzig currently edging out Freiburg for fourth place based on goal differential.
- John Brooks will reportedly be moving on from Wolfsburg when his contract runs out this summer but for now he remains with the side who currently sit in 12th place and face Union Berlin at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Julian Green, Timothy Tillman and Greuther Furth have (very) quietly pulled four points from their past three matches which brings them to 14, still five points behind their closest competitor for bottom of the table. They take on Bochum at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Timothy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt visit Hertha Berlin at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Josh Sargent picked up another assist midweek in his teams FA Cup loss to Liverpool. Norwich will be looking for their first points in four weeks when they face Brentford at 10a on Peacock.
- Joe Scally has found minutes hard to come by in the second half of the season, his Gladbach teammates take on Pelegrino Matarazzo’s relegation threatened Stuttgart at 12:30p on ESPN+.
- Yunus Musah continues to get significant minutes for Valencia who face Granada at 12:30p on ESPN+. Valencia are pretty comfortably middle of the table at this point.
- Jonathan Gomez was included in Real Sociedad’s bench for their midweek victory over Mallorca on Wednesday but did not see the field, it was his first inclusion on the bench. His team face Real Madrid at 3p on ESPN+ which would be a pretty shocking time to make your debut but he does seem to be inching closer to making a first team debut and we’ll be keeping an eye on this.
MLS Streaming Matchups (all games on ESPN+)
- The New England Revolution (Altidore, Lletget) take on FC Dallas (Ferreira, Pomykal) at 1:30p.
- Toronto FC (Bradley, Bradley) face the New York Red Bulls (Clark, Tolkin, Long) at 1:30p.
- Montreal (Mihailovic) and Philadelphia (Aaronson, McGlynn) kick off at 4p.
- The San Jose Earthquakes (Ebobise, Cowell) take on the Columbus Crew (Zardes, Morris, Berry) at 4:30p.
- Cincinnati and DC United (Yow, Nyeman) start at 5p.
- Chicago (Slonina) and Orlando City face off at 5p.
- Minnesota United take on Nashville (Zimmerman) at 5p.
- The Colorado Rapids face Atlanta United (M. Robinson) at 5p.
- Vancouver takes on New York City FC (Gray) also at 5p.
- Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders (Morris, Roldan) kick off at 5p.
Elche v Barcelona - 10:15a on ESPN+
Sergino Dest looks to be reestablishing himself under new manager Xavi as he has now started four of the last five league matches for his side. Barcelona have won four of their five matches over that stretch as well and now sit in fourth place in the La Liga standings. Fourteen points back of Real Madrid, any hopes of challenging for the league title have disappeared this season but there is some fierce competition for those Champions League qualifying spots with the teams in 3rd through 7th place separated by just four points.
- DeAndre Yedlin and Inter Miami take on Austin FC at 4p on ESPN. Miami played to a scoreless draw with Chicao last weekend while Austin took advantage of a hapless Cincinnati side to pickup their first win, 5-0.
- Kellyn Acosta and LAFC look to continue their hot start when they face the Portland Timbers at 10p on FS1 to close out the weekend. Eryk Williamson continues to recover from his ACL injury though indications were he had hopes of an early season return.
- Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessmann, and Venezia have some work to do to get out of the relegation spots, currently trailing Cavliari by three points for safety. They face 10th place Sassuolo at 9a on Paramount+.
- Timothy Weah and Lille face Claremont at 11:05a on beIN Sport. Weah has been bouncing back and forth between starts and bench appearances since his return from injury in January.
- Chris Richards remains out for Hoffenheim who face Koln at 11:30a on ESPN+.
- Matthew Hoppe saw 22’ off the bench for Mallorca in their 2-0 loss to Real Sociedad, it was his first appearance since early January. His club take on Celta de Vigo at 12:30p on ESPN+.
- Konrad de la Fuente has not made the matchday squad for Olympique Marseille in league play since January. This is in part due to injury but he did appear in the teams two Europa League matches in late February but still failed to make the team bench for Ligue 1 since. His team face Monaco at 2:45p on beIN Sport.