The weekend schedule expands quite a bit this week with the return of the Bundesliga after an extended break following the World Cup. Gio Reyna and Joe Scally headline the list of returning athletes as the players who were with the USMNT for the World Cup, and are joined by several other Americans who will be returning to action or even looking to make a first time break through. We’re also going to take a stab at increasing our coverage to include any players who were called in to the 2022 World Cup squad, regardless of their league, if the match is available on one of the significant platforms. The increase in matches means quite a bit to cover, so let’s get right to it.
Mallorca v Celta Vigo - 3p on ESPN+
Luca de la Torre came on as a half-time substitute last Friday for Celta Vigo and helped the team turn around a 1-0 deficit and pick up the point with a 1-1 draw against Villarreal. Luca looked quite sharp in the match and is making the case for additional playing time for a Celta Vigo side that sit just one point out of relegation in a very crowded bottom half of the La Liga table. Celta’s opponent on Friday is a Mallorca side that sit in 10th place, six spots above them but with just five more points. It will likely be a tight race for the remainder of the season (which has yet to make the halfway point) and it would be good to see de la Torre work his way into that battle.
- A little bonus Friday action as Daryl Dike and West Bromwich Albion face Burnley at 3p on ESPN+ in the English Championship.
Union Berlin v Hoffenheim - 9:30a on ESPN+
Jordan Pefok notably did not receive a callup to the USMNT for the World Cup, so he should return to action well rested as Union Berlin resume their 2022-23 campaign. The club currently sit in 5th place as they had stumbled a bit heading into the break, loosing three of five and drawing a fourth to slip back in the standings. They’ll look to get back on track as they face a Hoffenheim side that also stumbled into the break, losing four of five and picking up just one point over that time, they currently sit in 11th place. Hoffenheim have added a fresh face to the roster, American Justin Che who seems unlikely to see significant playing time but will have us checking the lineups on a regular basis to see if the Bundesliga continues to increase their American influence.
- Cameron Carter-Vickers and Celtic play Greenock Morton at 7:15a on ESPN+ Saturday morning in Scottish FA Cup action. Greenock Morton are a second tier club so it could be an opportunity for CCV to get some rest this weekend.
- Liverpool and Chelsea face off in a matchup of two sides that expected more but need to go on a serious run to crack the EPL top four. Christian Pulisic remains out but the match is available on Peacock at 7:30a.
- Josh Sargent and Norwich City face Coventry City at 7:30a on ESPN+. Norwich City won their first match under new manager (and fellow American) David Wagner but still sit two points out of the promotion playoff spots.
- Timothy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt face Schalke at 9:30a on ESPN+. Paxten Aaronson also joined Eintracht Frankfurt over the winter break but the club released him for the USMNT January camp which would seem to indicate they have little plans or expectations for him in the near future.
- Kevin Paredes received his first start for Wolfsburg in October but then missed the team’s next four matches before the World Cup break due to a calf injury. Wolfsburg return to action with a matchup against Freiburg at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Haji Wright and Antalyaspor will face league leading Galatasaray at 11a on beIN Sports. There have been rumors that Wright may be moving to another league but for now he’ll look to contribute to an upset result and pick up a precious point for his team as they try to avoid relegation.
- Chris Richards received his first league start on Wednesday as Crystal Palace picked up a huge point against Manchester United. Richards played well but his spot is a bit dependent on the health of his teammates. Palace now face fourth place Newcastle United at 12:30p on NBC.
Borussia Dortmund v Augsburg - 9:30a on ESPN+
Gio Reyna will look to make some headlines on the field as Borussia Dortmund return to action on Sunday. Reyna struggled throughout the World Cup, not seeing the field as much as he would have liked, and by his own admission not responding well, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg though much of the drama was not of his doing. Regardless, there’s no better way to put all that behind him than to be able to take the field and let his play take over. Injuries have long been a concern for Reyna and BVB has been careful with him so it wouldn’t be surprising if he is in a substitute as the team returns from a long break and he is gradually worked into more action. BVB have been disappointing so far this season and currently sit in sixth place, two points back of Champions League qualification and already nine points back of league leading Bayern Munich. This weekend they will face an Augsburg side that sit just two points out of the relegation zone.
- Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson and Leeds United fell to Aston Villa last weekend and Jesse Marsch’s side will look to pick up their first win in six matches when they face Brentford at 9a on Peacock. Leeds currently sit in 14th, two points out of the relegation zone though they do have a game in hand.
- Joe Scally and Borussia Mönchengladbach face Bayer Leverkusen at 11:30a on ESPN+. Scally has started every match for Gladbach though he did not appear for the US at the World Cup.
- Tim Weah’s Lille face Pau at 12:30p on FS2 in French Cup action. Weah is being used all over the place by Lille recently including getting the start last Sunday at left back.
- Weston McKennie and Juventus will look to bounce back from an embarrassing 5-1 loss to Napoli when they face Atalanta at 2:45p on CBSSN.
- Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson and Fulham look to continue their improbable run in the EPL as they take on Tottenham Hotspur at 3p on USA Network.
- Yunus Musah and Valencia face Almeria at 3p on ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes. The two teams are both a part of that crowded bottom half of the LaLiga table.
Let us know what you’re seeing this weekend in the comments section below.