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USMNT August 16-18 viewing guide and open thread

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The Bundesliga rejoins the fray

Schalke 04 v Alanyaspor - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

The Bundesliga is back! The German first division joins the English Premier League and French Ligue 1 in beginning their 2019-20 campaign with the first week of fixtures this weekend. This means a number of Americans will be looking for their regular season debuts in addition to those players in England, France, Mexico, and the United States who have already begun their seasons. There’s a solid amount of action this weekend, so let’s get right to it.

Friday

Huddersfield Town v. Fulham - 2:45p on ESPN+

There are very few opportunities on Friday, so we’ll make an exception to our typical policy and quickly call out the opportunity to watch Fulham in the Championship Friday afternoon on ESPN+. Fulham have won one and lost one in their first two matches with Tim Ream missing the loss but returning for Fulham’s win over Blackburn. Luca de la Torre was on the bench for the loss, but he was not in the 18 the following week. On Friday, the team will play Huddersfield Town, who were also relegated from the Premier League following the 2018-19 season and is now without the services of Danny Williams, who remains unsigned.

Saturday

Werder Bremen v Fortuna Düsseldorf - 9:30a on FS2

Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen will kick off their season against Zack Steffen, Alfredo Morales, and Fortuna Düsseldorf on Saturday morning. Sargent’s role with Werder Bremen has been the cause of much speculation but it remains to be seen how he will be utilized by the club this season. The young did start as a winger Saturday in the teams DFB Pokal match with Atlas Delmenhorst, which they won soundly, but failed to make an individual impact and was subbed off in the 62nd minute. It seems that a positive start to the season would be regularly making the 18 with significant substitute appearances perhaps leading to starting opportunities in cup matches and further on in the season.

On the opposite side of the field it looks almost certain that Zack Steffen will begin the season as the preferred keeper for Fortuna Düsseldorf now that his main competition for the spot has been sidelined by injury. Steffen started Düsseldorf’s Cup win over Oerbliga side FC 08 Villingen last Saturday as the team needed extra time but was able to secure the 3-1 win over the fifth tier side. Alfredo Morales also started and went the full 120 and looks to play a role for the team again this season after seeing over 1,500 minutes for the club last season, though that role did diminish as the season went on.

Borussia Mönchengladbach v Schalke 04 - 12:30p on FS1

There is a second opportunity to see Americans going head-to-head in the Bundesliga on Saturday when Fabian Johnson and Borussia Mönchengladbach take on Weston McKennie and Schalke. Johnson seems to be out of favor with the USMNT and his club situation may be trending in a similar direction. Johnson did not see the pitch for the club’s last six games of the 2018-19 season and was used as a defensive substitute in their DFB Pokal match last weekend, coming on late for one of the team’s forwards. Johnson’s primary position for ‘Gladbach prior to being relegated to the bench was at right back, a position that the team fortified over the summer by bringing in Stefan Lainer from RB Salzburg for $14M, their most expensive signing of the summer thus far (the Bundesliga transfer window closes September 2). Johnson is a diverse player, with appearances on the left and right wings as well last season, and that diversity gives him a certain value. But, it seems likely that the player will not see regular starting minutes outside of injuries to the team.

Speaking of players being utilized in different roles for their team, Weston McKennie should be taking the field for Schalke on Saturday, but the biggest question for the player this season seems to be whether Schalke will find a permanent position for the player under new manager and USMNT alumnus David Wagner. In the 2018-19 season, McKennie played at center mid, defensive mid, centerback, right back, attacking mid, and center forward. Of course, in the DFB Pokal last weekend, McKennie came on as a substitute for right winger Steven Skrzybski, so perhaps McKennie finding a consistent role in the midfield this season isn’t such a sure thing.

Other Notes:

  • Timothy Weah and Lille face Amiens in their second game of the season at 2p on beIN Connect, which is available online or through their app for those with beIN Sports subscriptions through their cable provider. Weah started and played nearly 70 minutes in the teams opening match last weekend, a 2-1 win over FC Nantes.
  • The LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders will cap the day when they meet at 10p on ESPN2. The Galaxy are coming off a midweek 2-0 win over FC Dallas, a game which Julian Araujo and Sebastian Lletget started. Meanwhile Seattle is coming off a 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake. Cristian Roldan started the game and Jordan Morris came on as a sub in the 62nd minute with Seattle chasing a goal, but the team conceded twice after he came on.

Sunday

Chelsea v Leicester City - 11:30a on NBCSN

Somewhat surprisingly, $70 million man Christian Pulisic did not start for Chelsea last weekend, instead coming on as a substitute with the team already down one goal in the second half. The team would go on to lose 4-0. Pulisic did start the team’s UEFA Super Cup match with Liverpool on Wednesday and had a very nice assist, his first with Chelsea, to set up the opening goal.

Unfortunately, Pulisic was taken off in the 74th minute and the team would go on to lose the penalty shootout following extra time.

This weekend, Chelsea will be looking to get their first points of the season against Leicester City, who played to a scoreless draw against the Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend. Frank Lampard’s plans remain unknown, but if Pulisic continues to be an impact player, he will force the managers hand.

Other Notes:

  • Eintracht Frankfurt takes on Hoffenheim in their season opener at 9:30a on FS1 Sunday morning. Timothy Chandler had a lost year for Eintracht Frankfurt last season due to injury with just one sixteen minute appearance all season. Chandler saw his first real minutes of the season on Thursday when he received the start in Frankfurt’s Europa League qualifier, a second leg which they led 5-0 going in. It was the team’s fifth match thus far, including Europa League and the DFB Pokal, and previously Chandler had seen just two minutes. Chandler had made the bench in every game so perhaps he will find a more prominent role as the long season rolls on.
  • Union Berlin faces RB Leipzig at noon on FS1. The most recent reports have Tyler Adams out at least a few more weeks due to the adductor injury that kept him from the Gold Cup as well as RB Leipzig’s preseason.
  • The Portland Timbers and Atlanta United meet up Sunday night at 10p on FS1 in the final game of the weekend. Portland is coming off a 3-2 win over Chicago while Atlanta are coming off a 3-2 win over Club América in the Campeones Cup. Jorge Villafana and Jeremy Ebobisse could see time for Portland while Miles Robinson, Brad Guzan, and Brad Guzan could see time for Atlanta along with Emerson Hyndman who scored the opening goal for the team on Wednesday.

Let us know what else you’re watching this weekend in the comments below.