Welcome back to another weekend. There’s not an overwhelming slate this weekend but there should be a few chances to catch key United States internationals in action this weekend. You’ve also have some extra time to recover from Thursday’s Halloween shenanigans as there are no games of note on Friday. So, let’s get to it and jump right into Saturday’s slate.
Watford FC v Chelsea - 1:30p on NBCSN
After a few months of panic, it’s beginning to look like Christian Pulisic has earned himself a regular role with his new club. Pulisic notably came on to assist the game winner in the club’s 1-0 win over Ajax in Champions League play a week and a half ago, earning himself the start last weekend against Burnley when he tallied his instantly famous first, second, and third goals in the Premier League. Pulisic started again midweek in the teams 2-1 Carabao Cup loss to Manchester United. It’s not set in stone that Pulisic will start again this weekend when the team faces Watford. The start Wednesday was just his second straight start and he is coming off 70 minutes in the midweek game but he has now appeared in five straight matches across all competitions and his recent production will have Chelsea fans howling if he doesn’t at least see significant minutes. It’s up to Pulisic now to make the most of those minutes and give Lampard no excuses to return him to a secondary or bench role.
This isn’t a second rate Chelsea team either. Despite some preseason predictions of a down year given the new manager and young faces (necessitated by their transfer ban) acclimating to the new league, Chelsea currently sits in fourth place in the EPL and they’ve won their past four matches. This weekend, they will be facing a Watford side that is sitting dead last in the table with just five points through ten games and still looking for their first win of the season. Watford have also managed to score just five goals this season, though they have squeaked out a draw in three straight league games, giving up just one goal to Tottenham while remaining scoreless against Sheffield United and Bournemouth. The game certainly favors Chelsea but they’ll need to perform to potential to avoid dropping points as well.
- Timothy Chandler saw just his second start of the season in the clubs midweek 2-1 win over FC St. Pauli in dfb Pokal play. Chandler has played very sparingly this season though he did get 11 minutes off the bench last weekend against league leading (?!?) Borussia Mönchengladbach. This weekend, the team will be playing Bayern Munich who are coming off a 2-1 win over Union Berlin. The match will be on FS1 at 10:30a Saturday morning.
- John Brooks is back and went 90 last weekend in Wolfsburg’s scoreless draw with Augsburg. Wolfsburg currently sit in fourth place, one point ahead of this weekend’s opponent, Borussia Dortmund. Wolfsburg’s position is an interesting one. They have just 11 goals through 9 games, which is easily the worst in the top half of the table. They have also allowed just five goals, nearly half as many as the second best team. This match is also kicking off at 10:30a Saturday morning and will be available on FS2.
- The U-17s face the Netherlands Saturday afternoon and will need at least a draw to advance. To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s enough either, as it would keep them in third place in their group and 4 of the 6 third place teams will advance to the knockout rounds. But, math is hard and I don’t have the energy this morning. We should know more after groups A and B wrap up on Friday. Regardless, the game will be at 7p on FS2 and there should be a separate game thread coming out for that match, presumably written by someone who’s better prepared to do some math.
Augsburg v Schalke 04 - Noon on FS2
Weston McKennie is also back from injury and should be ready to go this weekend when Schalke face Augsburg. McKennie had missed the last two matches but started and went 72 minutes in the team’s midweek dfb Pokal match. Schalke haven’t won in their last three league games after putting together a string of four straight wins. Not surprisingly, the streaks coincide with whether or not the team is able to score goals. They scored thirteen during their winning streak, but managed just one outside of that (the club is 0-2-3 when scoring 1 or less goals). The team is going to need to learn how to score consistently to finish in the top six, but it looks like their defense should keep them competitive in most games.
Schalke should find it easier to score this weekend when they face FC Augsburg, who are in 17th place and have allowed 21 goals through their first nine games, a mark that is second worst by just one goal.
- Zack Steffen will return to the net this weekend for Fortuna Düsseldorf and presumably get to see a number of shot stopping opportunities when the team faces FC Köln. Alfredo Morales also saw 25 minutes off the bench last weekend. The match is at 9:30a on FS1.