The MLS is Back, which is what is happening and also the name of the tournament. You know that by now unless you actively avoid anything regarding the MLS, but it still seems weird and we kind of get a kick out of pointing out weird stuff, so there it is. Between MLS is Back, the NWSL Challenge Cup, the English Premier League and Liga MX, there is a ton of action this weekend. We’ll have nearly 20 games, with over half of them on major television networks. With so many games, let’s get right to it:
Seattle Sounders v San Jose Earthquakes - 9p on ESPN
Nick Lima, Jackson Yueill, and Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes will kick off their MLS is Back tournament hopes Friday night on ESPN when they face Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan, and Danny Leyva. Lima and Yueill started both matches for San Jose in March and Wondo came off the bench in both (a loss and a draw) while in Seattle’s Jordan Morris came off the bench in the team’s first match and promptly scored two goals for the come behind win. Morris then started the team’s second game before the break, while Roldan started both matches. Leyva started the first, was replaced by Morris, and did not appear in the second match. There will be plenty of opportunities in this tournament with quick hitting games and five substitutes, so it seems likely we will see each of these players make an appearance for their team on Friday.
Sheffield United v Chelsea - 12:30p on NBC
Christian Pulisic has started the past four matches and played in all five since the restart, and has been performing fantastically, easily one of the best players on the team in that period. Pulisic has three goals and two assists in the five games, a tally which does not include the penalties and fouls that he has drawn which have directly led to goals.
This weekend, Chelsea take on Sheffield United, who are currently in seventh place and within striking distance of European competition, so they still have quite a bit to play for this weekend. With the exception of their win over Manchester City, Chelsea’s schedule has been pretty soft since their return to action, so this will represent a stiffer test for the team, who held on for a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace on Tuesday.
- Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls kick off their MLS is Back schedules on Saturday night at 8p on Fox in a game that will likely see Brad Guzan and Emerson Hyndman take the field for Atlanta.
- In the nightcap, FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew SC will face off at 10:30p on FS1. Long lost American talent Joe Gyau could see the field for Cincinnati while Darlington Nagbe and Gyasi Zardes will both likely start for Columbus.
Looking through the paywall:
- Watford FC and Newcastle meet at 7:30a on NBC Sports Gold on Saturday morning. The good news is that DeAndre Yedlin finally got a start for Newcastle on Wednesday, the bad news is that he was the worst ranked player on the team that got shellacked by Manchester City 5-0. It can’t be easy to get so few minutes and then come in to start against a powerhouse like Man City, but Yedlin didn’t do much to help his cause.
- Duane Holmes also had a rough Wednesday, getting pulled prior to halftime with his team down 1-0. Derby County is chasing a promotion opportunity and was facing second place West Bromwich Albion. They would go on to lose the match 2-0 which dropped them to 9th place. The team will face Brentford at 7:30a on ESPN+ Saturday morning.
Toronto FC v D.C. United - 9a on ESPN
One of the joys of having a soccer tournament in Orlando in the middle of July is morning games to avoid the midday heat. Toronto FC and DC United are the lucky winners of Sunday’s opportunity to have a 9a local game, which feels a bit like a weekend youth tournament but I’m sure this will all work out fine. Jozy Altidore, Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley and Omar Gonzalez will see the field for Toronto, while D.C. United will have Bill Hamid and fringe USMNT player Russell Canouse taking the pitch.
- Owen Otasowie has yet to make the bench for the Wolverhampton Wanderers since they returned from the break but the team does face Everton at 7a on NBCSN.
- Indiana Vassilev has been seeing regular minutes off the bench for relegation threatened Aston Villa. The team play Crystal Palace at 9:15a on NBCSN.
- Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United will play at 8p on ESPN Sunday evening. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi are likely to see the field for SKC, while Ike Opara will start for Minnesota.
- Sebastian Saucedo and Pumas UNAM will face Toluca at 8:55p on TUDN Sunday evening.
Looking through the paywall:
- Rose Lavelle and the Washington Spirit play the Houston Dash at 12:30p on CBS All Access Sunday afternoon. The Dash don’t have any USWNT players likely to take the field, but did I mention that stinking Rose Lavelle will be playing for the Spirit?
- The Chicago Red Stars take on Utah Royals FC at 10p, also on CBS All Access. The Red Stars are off to a slow start in the tournament, but are recognized as one of the better teams and feature Casey Short, Morgan Brian, Ashley Naeher, and Julie Ertz.
With MLS and NWSL tournaments ongoing the action spills into Monday with four additional matches:
- The OL Reign and Portland Thorns FC face off at 12:30p on CBS all access. Meghan Klingenberg and Lindsey Horan will lead the charge for the Thorns, who are looking for their first win of the tournament.
- Los Angeles Football Club and the Houston Dynamo will play at 8p on FS1. LAFC coach Bob Bradley is likely the most recognizable name for either team...DaMarcus Beasley come back to us.
- The North Carolina Courage look to continue their romp through the NWSL tournament when they face Sky Blue FC at 10p on CBS all access. The Courage are prohibitive favorites to win the tournament and feature Crystal Dunn, Abby Dahlkemper, and Samantha Mewis.
- Again, thanks to the July heat and humidity in Orlando, the LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers will be kicking off at 10:30p local time in a match that can be seen on FS1. The LA Galaxy feature a midfield of what could have been with Sacha Kljestan, Perry Kitchen, and Sebastian Lletget.
With so many games this weekend, there’s a lot to keep an eye on. Let us know where you’re focusing in the comments section below.