After months of sprinting through the Ocho and World Cup qualification the USMNT has made it and for the first time since September enter a stretch where the next major USMNT match isn’t for months (longer if you’re primarily focused on the World Cup cycle). Short term injuries become much less significant while player development and growth become more measured but also more important for the long term health of the team. There are no matches on Friday but there is that last piece of the World Cup puzzle as the draw determines who the team will face. Let’s get to it.
2022 FIFA World Cup Draw - Noon on FS1 and Telemundo
The USMNT learns who they will face in the group stage of the World Cup in November when the draw is held on Friday. Just remember, it’s called The Group of Death because we’re in it.
Borussia Dortmund v RB Leipzig - 12:30p on ESPN+
Giovanni Reyna and Tyler Adams rejoin their clubs to take the field against one another on Saturday afternoon. Reyna, who had just returned from injury prior to the break, was used as a substitute and put in some electric performances over the break. While the travel itself can be grueling Reyna’s minutes played with the USMNT should have him returning to his club as fresh as possible. Borussia Dortmund trail Bayern Munich by six points with seven matches to play and the clubs do have one final meeting this season but overcoming them in the standings would be astonishing at this point even with the returns of Reyna and Earling Haaland.
Meanwhile, Tyler Adams has seen his minutes diminish with his club recently but started every match for the USMNT though he did rest the final 45’ of the match against Costa Rica as the US saw out their goal differential lead in the standings. RB Leipzig start the final stretch of the season in fourth place, the coveted final Champions League position, but tied on points with Freiburg and just a point ahead of Hoffenheim. They will need to continue their strong second half to secure the position.
- Christian Pulisic saw a lot of minutes over the International window, combining that with the intercontinental travel he could probably use a bit of a break but that’s for Thomas Teuchel to decide. Chelsea face Brentford at 10a on USA Network.
- FC Dallas and the Chicago Fire face off at 3:30p on Univision and Twitter. Jesus Ferreira and Paul Arriola return to the club having helped the USMNT achieve the crucial 5-1 thumping of Panama. Paxton Pomykal for Dallas and Gaga Slonina for the Fire seem like two of the players closest to the 23 (or potential 26) man roster that remain on the outside looking in and will need a push over the next several months to break through.
- Matthew Hoppe and Mallorca face Getafe at 8a on ESPN+ in a relegation scrap. Mallorca are one point back of safety and three points back of Getafe with nine games to play.
- Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessmann and Venezia are in a relegation battle of their own, three points back of Cagliari for safety and seven points behind their opponent this weekend, Spezia. The match can be seen at 9a on Paramount+.
- Timothy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt face Julian Green, Timothy Tillman and Greuther Furth at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Chris Richards should be nearing a return from injury as Hoffenheim face Bochum at 9:30a on ESPN+. Justin Che also saw 20’ for Hoffenheim in the clubs final match before the window.
- George Bello comes back to Arminia Bielefeld well rested after not being used by the USMNT. The club face Stuttgart at 9:30a in a tight relegation battle where four clubs are separated by one point for the final direct relegation spot.
- Josh Sargent and Norwich City face Brighton and Hove Albion at 10a on Peacock. It looks like Norwich are headed for relegation as they are bottom of the table and eight points from safety with nine matches to play.
- Jesse Marsch and Leeds United won two straight heading into the international window and have opened up a seven point gap with Watford for relegation (though they also have a game in hand). They face Southampton at 10a on Peacock.
- Timothy Weah and Lille face Bordeaux at 1p on beIN Sports. Lille are two points out of qualifying for European competition and six points back of Champions League qualification so they can’t take anything for granted this weekend against last place Bordeaux.
- Matt Miazga and Deportivo Alaves face Atletico Madrid at 3p on ESPN+. Miazga’s minutes usage has been all over the place this season though it has included usage in key matchups.
MLS Matches (all on ESPN+):
- Another player who looks to be on the fringe of the roster is Djordje Mihailovic who has impressed recently with Montreal who face Cincinnati at 4p.
- Toronto FC take on New York City FC at 4p.
- Gyasi Zardes has lost his starting spot with Columbus and perhaps his role with the USMNT as well. Columbus face Walker Zimmerman and Nashville at 6p.
- DC United’s youngsters seem unlikely to be ready for a 2022 World Cup call up but their ongoing development will be a thing to watch. They face Atlanta United and Miles Robinson at 7:30p.
- Matt Turner and New England face the New York Red Bulls at 7:30p.
- Orlando City take on LAFC and Kellyn Acosta at 7:30p.
- The Philadelphia Union and Charlotte FC kick off at 7:30p.
- Cade Cowell and the San Jose Earthquakes take on Austin FC at 7:30p.
- DeAndre Yedlin and Inter Miami face the Houston Dynamo at 8p.
- Minnesota United take on Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan and the Seattle Sounders at 8p.
- Vancouver and Sporting Kansas City kick off at 8p.
- The Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake close out the evening with a 9p start.
Augsburg v Wolfsburg - 9:30a on ESPN+
The second headliner of the weekend is another American v American matchup in the Bundesliga and a pretty direct one at that as Ricardo Pepi and Augsburg face John Brooks and Wolfsburg. Pepi has found club minutes hard to come by recently as Augsburg have looked to more veteran figures to avoid relegation. They are one of the four clubs within a single point of direct relegation, holding the narrowest of margins over Arminia Bielefeld. However, if Pepi does make the field he will likely see himself in direct confrontations with John Brooks who continues to be a regular contributor for Wolfsburg in central defense. Wolfsburg have moved themselves up to 13th place though they are still just five points ahead of the relegation cluster.
- The Portland Timbers face the LA Galaxy at 4:30p on FS1 though this match does not seem to have significant USMNT interest.
- Joe Scally and Borussia Monchengladbach face Mainz at 11:30a on ESPN+. Scally is one of the names most often brought up as a “snub” from the recent rosters and it will be interesting to see if he can make enough of an impression over the next six months that Gregg Berhalter gives his higher ceiling a chance compared to more veteran options.
- Yunus Musah and Valencia face Cadiz at 12:30p on ESPN+. Valencia are solidly middle of the table which should mean consistent minutes for Musah down the stretch.
- Sergino Dest’s Barcelona will face Sevilla at 3p on ESPN+. Dest suffered a hamstring injury just prior to the international window though it wasn’t believed to be too serious.