American fans could be in for a real treat on Wednesday. There is a chance that two United States internationals could face off in Champions League action, with a third member of the USMNT possibly making a simultaneous appearance as his club looks to clinch passage to the Champions League round of 16. There’s also the MLS Cup Conference Finals on Thursday night to see who will be playing for the Cup. Which games should you keep an eye on this week?
Borussia Dortmund v Club Brugge - 3p on Univision Deportes en vivo (Free) or B/R live ($2.99)
Christian Pulisic and Ethan Horvath could go head-to-head Wednesday as Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge meet in Champions League action. The two teams approach the match with entirely different prospects. Dortmund can seal their spot in the Round of 16 with a win or a draw, while Brugge must win and get some help over the last two match days or they are eliminated. Dortmund and Atlético Madrid lead the group with nine points, while Brugge has managed just four points through their first four games.
Dortmund are coming off a win over the weekend in league play, but their last Champions League match was a 2-0 loss to Atlético Madrid, their first competitive loss in the 2018-19 season. Pulisic made a substitute appearance over the weekend as the team saw out a 2-1 win over Mainz 05. It was the fifth straight league match that he did not start when healthy, though he did start two Champions League matches (both against Atlético) in that stretch.
Brugge suffered a 3-1 defeat over the weekend, their second straight loss, that dropped them to third place in the Belgian First Division standings. Brugge’s last Champions League match was a 4-0 drubbing of AS Monaco in which Horvath played very well, including some very nice saves early in the game that kept his team from falling behind early. Horvath started the season as the second keeper for Brugge but has started their last five games and will look to continue that progress.
When the teams last met two months ago, neither American started the game. However, Pulisic came off the bench to score the games only goal in a 1-0 win for Dortmund.
FC Porto v Schalke 04 - 3p on Univision Deportes en vivio or B/R Live
Weston McKennie’s status for Schalke’s important matchup with Porto is a bit up in the air, as he had not yet returned this past weekend from the hamstring injury he suffered while on USMNT duty. There are more recent reports suggesting that he has not traveled with the team due to the flu. Schalke have worked their way into 2nd place in the group, two points behind leaders Porto and four points ahead of Galatasaray. A win on the road or a Galatasaray loss at Lokomotiv Moscow would ensure Schalke’s place in the round of 16. After a very slow offensive start to the season, Schalke has found scoring a bit easier more recently managing to find the back of the net five times in their win over Nurnberg this weekend.
The last time Porto and Schalke met the teams played to a 1-1 draw, which would also be a suitable result for Schalke and combined with a Galatasaray draw or loss would ensure them passage to the next round.
Note: Fellow American Haji Wright, who made his first senior team appearance for Schalke over the weekend, is not eligible to appear in either of their two remaining group stage games as he was left off the team’s initial roster.
New York Red Bulls v Atlanta United - 7p on FS1
Tyler Adams and the New York Red Bulls will need to overcome a three goal deficit if they’re going to advance the the MLS Final. Atlanta put up three on New York at home Sunday, with the 3rd and final goal coming in the fifth minute of stoppage time. That goal could have been the nail in Red Bull’s coffin. Brad Guzan, Michael Parkhurst, Greg Garza and Darlington Nagbe all appeared for an Atlanta United team that is looking to make the final in just their second season in the league. Adams will be joined by Tim Parker, Aaron Long and Alex Muyl as they look for the improbable turnaround.
Sporting Kansas City v Portland Timbers - 9:30p on ESPN
The night cap—why is MLS scheduling one of their premier games at 9:30p on a Thursday night?—will start out dead even, as Kansas City and Portland played to a scoreless draw Sunday. The game wasn’t without its chances but neither team was able to break through in the first 90 minutes. Jeremy Ebobisse and Jorge Villafaña will take the field again Thursday and face off against Matt Besler, Ike Opara and Graham Zusi.
Are Pulisic and Horvath actually heading in very different (and very unexpected) short-term trajectories? Will Schalke be able to make the Round of 16 and would they have a chance? Can the Red Bulls perform the improbable? Let us know what you’re watching Wednesday and Thursday in the comments section below.