The Bundesliga is still off, so there is a bit of a reduced USMNT club schedule. Still, the cup action across most of Europe results in some unique viewing opportunities (particularly if you have access to ESPN+), including a rare opportunity to watch Folarin Balogun on network television. Here’s what we have this weekend:
Fulham FC v Rotherham United - 2:30p on ESPN+
Tim Ream has just signed an extension with Fulham through the conclusion of the 2024-25 season, though he has not been in the Fulham lineup recently due to injury. Antonee Robinson, on the other hand, has been a consistent starter and a top performing left back in the Premier League thus far this season. One thing to keep an eye on with all the cup matches, including England’s FA Cup, is that top flight clubs may use the opportunity to rotate their sides and give players like Antonee, who already has over 1,800 minutes this season, a chance to rest as they take on lower level opponents. Rotherham United would be such an opportunity, as they are a side that is currently dead last in the Championship.
Gillingham v Sheffield United - 10a on ESPN+
Auston Trusty’s Sheffield United will take on Gillingham FC, a mid-table League Two side on Saturday. Sheffield will have to decide if they’d like to save their players for an unlikely push out of the relegation zone or allow them the rare chance for a victory, a result they’ve accomplished just twice in league play this season.
Norwich City v Bristol Rovers - 10a on ESPN+
Josh Sargent has returned from injury and picked up a goal on New Years Day as Norwich drew with third place Southampton in Championship play. Unfortunately, Norwich remain 15 points out of the promotion spots. The club will face the Bristol Rovers on Saturday morning, a League One side that has won three of their past five matches.
Amorebeita v Celta Vigo - 6a on ESPN+
Luca de la Torre has been coming off the bench recently for Celta Vigo, but may get a chance for starting minutes as his team take on struggling Segunda Division side Amorebeita FC in the Copa del Rey. de la Torre played just eight minutes in Celta Vigo’s first to Copa matches, but he was a starter at that time, which may give a hint as to how the team will prioritize Sunday’s match.
Empoli v AC Milan - 6:30a on Paramount+
In Italy, the Cup action took place earlier this week and Sunday will be a return to league action as Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah take on Empoli. Pulisic scored the game winner for Milan last weekend in their victory over Sassuolo as they maintained pace for a top four finish.
Lens v Monaco - 8:30a on FS2
Folarin Balogun and Monaco take on Lens in French Cup action this weekend in what could be the most difficult of the cup tests for American players this weekend. Like Monaco, Lens are in the first tier of French football, currently in seventh place in Ligue One play. Balogun is on a bit of a goal scoring drought with just one goal in his last nine matches, but he does have three assists in the team’s last three league games.
Nottingham Forest v Blackpool - 9a on ESPN+
Matt Turner and Nottingham Forest will take on League One side Blackpool on Sunday morning. Turner shouldn’t need rest, and while the coach could see it as an opportunity to rotate and allow their (current) second keeper some action, they might be better served to build on two straight Premier League victories over top 10 sides in Newcastle and Manchester United.
Salernitana v Juventus - Noon on Paramount+
Tim Weah is really, really back. In just his fourth match back from injury, Weah scored an absolute blast on Thursday in Italian Cup play. The goal was the last in a 6-1 thrashing of Salernitana, but there was nothing cheap about it. If you haven’t already seen the replay, go find one somehow. Weah has been a substitute in three of four matches since his return but did start last weekend in the team’s 1-0 win over Roma. Equally good news for USMNT fans is that Weah’s return has not cut into Weston McKennie’s minutes at all, with McKennie continuing to get 90 minutes in the center of the park while Weah has returned to his minutes as a right wingback. Juventus are on a 13 match undefeated streak and are within two points of league leading Inter Milan.
Discuss all of this weekend’s action in the comments!