The European leagues are just starting their preseason activities and a number of MLS clubs have lost players, American and otherwise, to Gold Cup competition. This means opportunity both in playing time and eyeballs for other players to take center stage and show why they should see more consideration for playing time, USMNT consideration, or even a transfer abroad. The action starts Saturday morning so let’s head straight there.
Olympique Lyonnais v Wolfsburg - 3p on ESPN Deportes
John Anthony Brooks and Wolfsburg have begun preparations for a 2021-22 season where they will participate in the Champions League and look to improve on their fourth place Bundesliga finish last season. This weekend, the preparations will take the form of a club friendly with Olympique Lyonnais who finished in the same fourth place position in France’s League 1 table.
Brooks has made himself a regular key contributor to his Wolfsburg side, starting 32 of 34 league matches for the club that gave up the second fewest number of goals, and he is arguably one of the most important contributors for a full strength USMNT side as well. At 28 years old, Brooks is squarely in the prime of his career and it will be exciting to see him continue to progress.
- Chris Richards looks likely to head out on loan again but for the moment is still with Bayern Munich, who face Koln at 10a on ESPN3 Saturday morning.
- With Miles Turner, George Bello and Matt Turner with the USMNT at the Gold Cup, Atlanta United and the New England Revolution match up on ESPN, which is an opportunity to see Brooks Lennon and Henry Kessler represent their respective sides.
Looking through the paywall:
- Caden Clark, Kyle Duncan and the NYRB face Inter Miami, which recently acquired Indiana Vassilev on loan from Aston Villa. The match will be played at 7p and can be seen on ESPN+.
- Jozy Altidore is reportedly back with Toronto FC and could see some immediate time with Ayo Akinola at the Gold Cup with Canada. Toronto face Orlando City and Chris Mueller, who would like to make a case for why he should have been included in Berhalter’s shallow winger pool. The teams play at 7:30p on ESPN+.
- The Columbus Crew and New York City FC also kick off at 7:30p on ESPN+. Keaton Parks was not even included in the 59-man provisional roster for the Gold Cup, but continues to contribute at the club level.
- The Philadelphia Union and DC United meet up at 7:30p on ESPN+. There are a slew of those left behind in this one, though United’s Moses Neyman and Kevin Paredes, who were in camp last week with the USMNT, will be available.
- Sporting Kansas City will be without Ginaluca Bussio as they take on Austin FC and familiar face Matt Besler at 8:30p on ESPN+.
- Nashville SC and the Chicago Fire play at 8:30p on ESPN+. Umm, Daniel Lovitz flashbacks anyone?
- Kellyn Acosta of the Colorado Rapids is away on international duty, but Cole Bassett remained with the club during the tournament. They will face the San Jose Earthquakes, who are without Jackson Yueill but do have Cade Cowell starting up top. The match is at 9p on ESPN+.
- The LA Galaxy and uncommitted Julian Araujo will face the Vancouver Whitecaps at 10p on ESPN+.
- The Portland Timbers and Jeremy Ebobisse face a slew of USMNT potentials who are not on international duty when they face FC Dallas with Ricardo Pepi, Jesus Ferreira, and Paxton Pomykal at 10:30p on ESPN+.
- David Ochoa, who was not called into the USMNT but was flirting with the Mexico side over the recent break, will step into goal for Real Salt Lake as they face LAFC at 10:30p on ESPN+.
Minnesota United v Seattle Sounders FC - 2p on ESPN+
The league leading and undefeated Seattle Sounders will look to continue their hot start as they take on 7th place Minnesota United Sunday afternoon, though they will be without the services of Cristian Roldan, who is with the USMNT for the duration of the tournament. Seattle’s hot start is even more impressive given the long term absences of Nicolas Lodeiro and goal keeper Stephen Frei. They face a Minnesota side who are coming off a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids, a match that saw a Minnesota player sent off in the waning minutes. Hassani Dotson, who was one of a few bright spots for the U-23 side that failed to qualify for the Olympics, came on as a sub for Minnesota last weekend in the loss.
Let us know if there are any diamonds in the rough you are keeping an eye on this weekend in the comments section below.