With the USMNT kicking off their World Cup campaign a week from Monday, things are really getting real. In this last weekend of fixtures before the tournament starts, it feels as though we pivot from hoping Christian Pulisic will start and make an undeniable impact to being quite content seeing him stew on the bench. Every match will be watched with a close eye, but this time holding our breath every time a player goes into a tackle, and scheduling a therapy appointment for every Gio Reyna wince. Here are the matches we’ll be dread watching this weekend:
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Borussia Dortmund - 12:30p on ESPN+
Start your oxygen deprivation schedule early this weekend with an American vs. American matchup in the Bundesliga. Perhaps the most talented, and most injury plagued player on the USMNT roster could take the field as Gio Reyna and Borussia Dortmund face Joe Scally and Borussia Mönchengladbach on Friday afternoon. Reyna, whose 2021-22 campaign was essentially a lost year, has worked his way back into the starting lineup for Dortmund with four starts in the clubs last six matches, including Champions League play. Reyna came off the bench on Tuesday in Dortmund's 0-2 loss to Wolfsburg. From a club perspective, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him start on Friday afternoon, as it would fit their recent usage of the player, but it will be a long 70 minutes for USMNT fans if he’s on the field.
On the opposite side, Joe Scally, who was also named to Gregg Berhalter’s World Cup squad in Wednesday’s announcement, will almost certainly start for ‘Gladbach, he’s been in the starting lineup for the club in every match this season including their 2-1 loss to Bochum on Tuesday. The loss to the relegation candidates was the latest dissapointment in a rough stretch for Gladbach who have lost three of their past four.
Tottenham Hotspur v Leeds United - 10a on Peacock+
Leeds went with the full squad rotation on Wednesday as they lost their EFL Cup match against Wolverhampton Wanderers by a 1-0 score. Jesse could do America a solid again on Saturday and give Tyler Adams and Brendan Aaronson some additional days of rest heading into the World Cup window. Realistically, the club will want to try to build on the momentum that they’ve built by winning their last two league matches, which means that watching Leeds on Saturday, which is already a stressful, heart pumping experience, could be even more amped up for Americans this weekend as they watch Adams and Aaronson tear around the field.
Leeds face a Spurs side that are in fourth place but coming off a 2-1 loss to Liverpool in league play last weekend and a 2-0 loss to Nottingham Forest in EFL Cup play on Wednesday. Harry Kane, who will feature for England in their second World Cup match against the United States, will likely see time for Spurs this weekend. Jesse, please check the rules to see if it is actually forbidden for you to put in a studs up tackle from the sidelines.
- Kevin Paredes is out for Wolfsburg due to injury as the team face Hoffenheim at 9:30a on ESPN+. After a slow start to the season, Wolfsburg have won three straight and are undefeated going back to mid-September.
- Christian Pulisic has started just three matches for Chelsea FC this season. If he starts on Saturday when Chelsea face Newcastle at 12:30p on NBC than the only logical conclusion is that Graham Potter not only hates Christian Pulisic, he hates America, bald eagles, and freedom itself.
Fulham FC v Manchester United - 11:30a on USA Network
Sunday’s dead-watch marquee matchup features players at two of our shallowest positions as Antonee Robinson, Tim Ream and Fulham take on Manchester United. Despite naming five fullbacks in total Robinson is the only “true” left back on Gregg Berhalter’s squad heading to the land that shall not be named and it seems likely that he will play as many minutes as the national team can squeeze out of him. Throughout his career, he has been a pretty resilient player, though he has recently struggled with an ankle injury. Tim Ream is one of four centerbacks being brought at a position that has been decimated by injury. It remains to be seen whether he will be starting on Matchday 1, as there are signs that Berhalter prefers Aaron Long, but he’s on the plane which is a solid step in the right direction. Given the lack of depth at the position, it would be surprising if his services weren’t called on at some point.
Fulham lost 2-1 last weekend to a 10 man Manchester City side after what seemed to be a very soft penalty call that went against Antonee Robinson late in the match. The team remains in 9th place, far outpacing preseason expectations, as they head into a matchup with a fifth place Manchester United side that are just four points ahead of them.
- Timothy Weah and Lille face Angers at 9a on beIN Sports. Weah is another key player for the US of A who has struggled with injuries at various points throughout his career, though the winger depth is not as shallow as other positions on the field.
- One player that it would be good to see take the field on Sunday because he’s returning from injury is Luca de la Torre, whose Celta Vigo side visit Algar at 10a on ESPN+. Luca wasn’t seeing much time prior to his injury, and the team has recently replaced their manager so he will have some work to do to find his place at a club that is currently sitting just above Spain’s relegation zone.
- Jordan Pefok will not be making the trip to the World Cup, so if you’d like a stress free opportunity to rage at Gregg Berhalter’s decisions, you can catch Union Berlin taking on Freiburg at 11:30a on ESPN+.
- Sergiño Dest has been struggling with some injuries recently, which could in part explain the decision to bring five fullbacks. His AC Milan team will face Fiorentina at Noon on Paramount+.
- Weston McKennie and Juventus close out your stressful weekend when they face Lazio at 2:45p on Paramount+.
Let us know what you plan to watch through the weekend in the comments section below.