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USMNT weekend viewing guide: The “Please Stay Healthy” edition

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With a week to go before qualifiers, the main thing to watch this weekend is the injury report.

Soccer: Borussa Dortmund at Liverpool Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

As we head into the last weekend of club play before players join their nations and kick off World Cup qualifying, there are a number of matches to keep an eye in order to watch USMNT players make their mark in La Liga, Ligue 1, the Bundesliga and the Premier League. Just as important will be monitoring the health status of the various players in action, in the hopes that they are able to join the national team at full strength. Here’s what you should be keeping an eye on this weekend.

Friday

Borussia Dortmund v Hoffenheim - 2:30p on ESPN+

Giovanni Reyna and Borussia Dortmund will look to bounce back from their disappointing 2-1 loss to Freiburg when they face Hoffenheim on Friday afternoon. BVB dominated possession against Freiburg but put just 4 of their 18 shots on target which was ultimately their undoing as the more efficient Freiburg side was able to capitalize.

Reyna has been deployed in a deeper midfield position in the teams two matches to start the season, though with plenty of freedom to roam. The results were stellar in the team’s first match and individually Reyna had a solid game in the second match as well. While he is listed as a forward on the recently released roster (forwards and wingers being listed together), USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter indicated in his press conference that there might be room for Reyna to be deployed in a role more similar to his new role with his club team so this will be something to keep an eye on.

Other notes:

  • The Columbus Crew take on FC Cincinnati at 6:43p on ESPN, but there will be no injuries to be avoided in this one as Gyasi Zardes is already out injured and won’t be joining the national team for this window.
  • Orlando City’s Daryl Dike is also dealing with injury and wasn’t included in the upcoming USMNT roster. OCSC face off against Indiana Vassilev and Inter Miami at 8:48p on ESPN.

Streaming overseas:

  • There’s a potential matchup of Americans in La Liga when Valencia plays Deportivo Alavés. There’s also a decent chance we won’t see either player, as Yunus Musah is just returning to training at Valencia from an injury and Matt Miazga has just recently joined Deportivo Alavés. It remains to be seen how quickly Alavés will integrate Miazga into the first team. In both cases, it could make good sense for the clubs to allow the players the next two weeks of international break for additional fitness and integration with their teams. The match will be played at 4:15p on ESPN+ if you want to keep half an eye out to see if either makes the field.

MLS Mashup:

(Matches on ESPN+)

  • It’s not much of a mashup for Friday as there is just the one game on ESPN+ and it would seem players on both sides (Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley for Toronto FC, Djordje Mihailovic for CF Montreal) remain pretty far outside the USMNT picture, but Toronto and Montreal face off at 7:38p on ESPN+.

Saturday

Norwich City v Leicester City - 10a on Peacock

Josh Sargent opened his Norwich City scoring account earlier this week with two goals and an assist as Norwich thumped a heavily rotated Bournemouth side in EFL Cup play. It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but Sargent took advantage of his opportunities, and sometimes it’s that first taste that you need to break through. Whether it leads to more playing time immediately remains to be seen.

Norwich have had a brutal schedule to start their EPL campaign with matches against Liverpool and Manchester City to start the season, and they are still looking for their first goal and result of the season. In both matches, Sargent has come in late with his team already facing a large deficit, a situation that has not led to any opportunities. Things don’t look much more encouraging this weekend as they face a Leicester City side that finished fifth in the table last season. Leicester are coming off a 4-1 loss to West Ham United after they went a man down in the 40th minute when Ayoze Perez was sent off, but that could just have the team more focused to pounce and take advantage of an overmatched Norwich side.

Other notes:

  • Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC will be playing at 12:30p on NBC, but Christian Pulisic remains out due to COVID protocols. Maybe that’s for the best as there’s no possibility of him getting hurt heading into the international window?
  • Atlanta United’s Miles Robinson and George Bello will be joining the USMNT for this window, but first they have a matchup at 3:50p Saturday afternoon on TUDN and Univision against Nashville SC and their USMNT teammate Walker Zimmerman.
  • Sebastian Lletget and the LA Galaxy face off in another El Tráfico against Bob Bradley’s LAFC at 7:08p on Fox. Julian Araujo reportedly declined advances from both the USMNT and Mexico for September and will make a decision on his international future in October.

Streaming overseas:

  • If Zack Steffen is ever going to get a league start for Manchester City, it should probably come against a lower level team like Arsenal FC. The teams play at 7:30a on Peacock.
  • Speaking of goalies that need to find more playing time for their clubs, Ethan Horvath and Nottingham Forest face Derby County in EFL Championship play at 7:30a on ESPN+.
  • Pellegrino Matarazzo and Stuttgart face Freiburg at 9:30a on ESPN+. Stuttgart blew out Gruether Fürth in their opener and then got blown out themselves against RB Leipzig last weekend. Their matches are often very eventful.
  • It would seem Julian Green is going to need to do more to catch the eye of Gregg Berhalter and earn a USMNT call-up. Gruether Fürth have had a rough introduction to the Bundesliga, though they did pick up a draw last weekend. This Saturday at 9:30a on ESPN+, they will face a Mainz side who upset RB Leipzig the opening weekend but lost to VfL Bochum last week.
  • Chris Richards would seem to need a move, but his team for the moment, Bayern Munich, face Hertha Berlin at 12:30p on ESPN+.
  • Rumors continue to swirl around Weston McKennie (presumably why Cristiano Ronaldo has given up and wants to leave) and things are in flux at Juventus, but the team will set that aside when they face Empoli at 2:45p on ESPN+.
  • Konrad de la Fuente will look to make his international competitive senior debut in a week but first Olympique de Marseille face Saint-Etienne at 3p on beIN Sports. Marseille are coming off a wild match against Nice which they “lost” when they refused to return to the field after a confrontation between fans and the players. The result is being appealed and sanctions against Nice seem likely.

MLS Mashup

(All games on ESPN+)

Sunday

Union Berlin v Borussia Mönchengladbach - 9:30a on ESPN+

A week after a solid performance against giants Bayern Munich, Joe Scally and Borussia Mönchengladbach crashed back to earth a bit in a 4-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen. These are the growing pains of a right-back playing out of position for a club with top half of the table aspirations in the Bundesliga. Despite the result it would also seem that the opportunities will keep coming for Scally, as he was switched over to the right side after halftime due to a teammate’s injury.

‘Gladbach will look to bounce back this weekend when they face Union Berlin, who have drawn their first two matches of the season, including last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Hoffenheim. Union Berlin will be without their starting RCB as Marvin Friedrich was sent off late in the match after picking up a second yellow card.

Other notes:

  • The Seattle Sounders and Cristian Roldan face the Portland Timbers in a late one at 10:38p on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The Roldan brothers will take the field together before possibly facing off in international competition when Cristian and the USMNT travel to face Alex’s El Salvador next Thursday.

Streaming overseas:

  • Timothy Weah and Lille face Montpellier at 11a on beIN Sports. Weah has started two straight for Lille but the defending champions have just two points through their first three matches.
  • Sergiño Dest and FC Barcelona look to improve on the 1-1 draw they had against Athletic Bilbao last weekend when they face Getafe at 11a on ESPN+.
  • In the “Please don’t get hurt” game of the weekend, Tyler Adams and John Brooks face off when RB Leipzig face Wolfsburg at 11:30a on ESPN+.
  • Bryan Reynolds did not make it off the bench for Roma last weekend. The club faces Salernitana at 2:45p on ESPN+.

MLS mashup:

  • Hop onboard the Pepi train! Ricardo Pepi is getting his chance with the USMNT, but first he’ll lead FC Dallas along with Paxton Pomykal and Jesus Ferreira as they face Austin FC at 8:25p.