There’s no sugarcoating it: the USMNT just slogged through a September window that gave little hope they will be a team to reckon with come the World Cup in November. So, let’s move right on from that. Instead of thinking about who the coach won’t call in, the injuries that will destroy the squad, or the inability to create danger or finish chances, let’s take a look at who’s playing with their club this weekend. It had been a pretty solid start to the season for a number of players, so let’s see where they’re at and actually try to enjoy something. Here we go:
Toronto FC v Inter Miami – 7:30p on ESPN+
DeAndre Yedlin reportedly avoided picking up a serious injury despite taking a pretty rough tackle from Saudi Arabia’s Saud Abdulhamid on Tuesday and could be available for Inter Miami as they face Toronto on Friday evening. Miami are currently tied for the 7th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and hold the edge over the Columbus Crew despite a significant goal differential mismatch (because apparently the first MLS tiebreaker is number of wins). Miami have won their past two matches, including a win two weeks ago over the Crew to move ahead of them in the standings. Their opponent this weekend is a Toronto side that sit 2nd to last in the Eastern Conference standings and have lost three straight matches.
Crystal Palace v Chelsea FC – 10a on USA Network
Christian Pulisic returns from a turbulent national team situation to find himself back in a turbulent club situation. Pulisic and Chelsea have had just one match since Thomas Tuchel was let go and Graham Potter was brought in to replace him, a 1-1 Champions League group stage draw with RB Salzburg. This weekend, the new manager will get his first league game with his new side as Chelsea take on Crystal Palace. It should be a comfortable first match for Potter and Chelsea, as Palace currently sit in 16th place and have just one win this season.
Pulisic saw just a handful of minutes off the bench in the draw with Salzburg, coming in with the score already tied 1-1 and was unable to make an impact in his limited minutes. With just the one match played since the transition, it’s far too early to determine how Pulisic might feature for Chelsea moving forward, and it seems likely to continue to be a point of concern for USMNT fans moving forward.
Chris Richards was himself seeing only limited minutes for Crystal Palace and had to miss the USMNT September camp due to injury. He is presumed (or desired) by many USMNT fans to be the replacement for Aaron Long in the starting lineup, but he may find it hard to break through with the USMNT if he can’t break through and show some product on the field with Crystal Palace.
- Gio Reyna will miss 7-10 days, which means he will be out at least for this weekend’s match after he felt some “tightness” while playing for the USMNT Tuesday. His Borussia Dortmund teammates will take on Kôln at 9:30a on ESPN+
- Jordan Pefok and Union Berlin travel to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday at 9:30a looking to maintain their hold on the top spot in the Bundesliga table. On the one hand, Pefok’s competitors for the forward position with the national team did nothing to claim the spot and close the door on the position. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem that there’s much more Pefok could do than what he has already done to start the season.
- Kevin Parades and Wolfsburg take on Pellegrino Matarazzo’s Stuttgart at 9:30a on ESPN+. Paredes has been appearing off the bench as a winger for Wolfsburg.
- Antonee Robinson has returned from injury and Tim Ream remains steady for a Fulham FC side who face Newcastle at 10a on Peacock.
- Joe Scally looked bright in relatively brief minutes off the bench over the international break and now heads back to Borussia Mönchengladbach. His side will take on Werder Bremen at 12:30p on ESPN+.
- Sergiño Dest had an unfortunate league debut for AC Milan in their 2-1 loss to Napoli, giving up a penalty and failing to make an impact moving forward. Saturday Milan will face Empoli at 2:45p on Paramount+.
MLS mashup (all matches on ESPN+):
- The Philadelphia Union travel to Charlotte FC for a 5:30p kick looking to close in on the Supporters Shield. They are currently tied with LAFC for the top record in MLS. The youngsters haven’t received a ton of playing time, but it’s hard to argue with the team’s success at this point.
- Brandon Vasquez sounds to be even further from the plane to Qatar based on Gregg Berhalter’s comments, but in the meantime, his FC Cincinnati side will face Gaga Slonina and the Chicago Fire at 7:30p.
- The Columbus Crew take on Aaron Long and the New York Red Bulls at 7:30p.
- Djordje Mihailovic and CF Montreal host DC United at 7:30p.
- The San Jose Earthquakes and Minnesota United kick off at 10p.
- Austin FC have won just one of their past five matches, falling nine points back of LAFC for the Western Conference lead. They face Vancouver at 10p on Saturday night.
- The LA Galaxy host Real Salt Lake at 10:30p, for those of you interested in a little MLS after dark madness.
Leeds United v Aston Villa – 11:30a on USA Network
Jesse Marsch will be watching from the bleachers as his Leeds United club take on Aston Villa in their first match since the manager was sent off for a sideline clash with the 4th official in the team’s 5-2 loss to Brentford four weeks ago. Marsch was incensed that a penalty had not been given to his side following what looked to be a foul in the box, and he was dismissed following his outburst. Leeds have now lost two of their past three heading into a match that many might have assumed would be a de facto relegation battle before the season started, but Leeds’ hot start to the season still has them sitting solidly in the middle of the table despite the recent rough stretch. Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson should both start for the side as they look to get back on track against a Villa team coming off their second win of the season.
- Kellyn Acosta and LAFC travel to play the Portland Timbers in a game that’s getting the full ABC Network treatment at 3p on Sunday afternoon.
- Sporting Kansas City host Jordan Morris and the Seattle Sounders at 5p on FS1. The Sounders look like they will miss out on the MLS playoffs, trailing Minnesota by five points with just two games remaining.
- Tim Weah has reportedly returned to training for Lille, who face Lorient at 7a on beIN Sports. Weah’s return would be a boon for a Lille side that currently sit in 7th, to say nothing of the boost it would give to the USMNT come November.
- Yunus Musah missed the September window, but he could be close to a return for a Valencia side that travel to Espanyol for a match that can be seen at 8a on ESPN+.
- Luca de la Torre didn’t look to do much to help himself over the international break and now returns to Celta Vigo still looking to break through with regular minutes for the club. His team face Real Betis at 10:15a on ESPN+.
- Weston McKennie is a lock to be on the plane to Qatar, barring injury (knock on all the wood), but it would be good to see him break out of the recent slump he’s been in when Juventus face Bologna at 2:45p on Paramount+.
MLS mashup (all matches on ESPN+):
- New York City FC beat the New York Red Bulls 2-0 two weeks ago in a decision that they hope will break them out of the slump that has seen them drop to 4th in the Eastern Conference over the last two months. It’s a stretch which has seen them pick up just two victories in 11 tries over that time. They’ll try to build some momentum leading up to the playoffs as they face Orlando City at 1p.
- Walker Zimmerman and Nashville SC close out the weekend as they take on the Houston Dynamo at 8:30p. Zimmerman has somehow become the USMNT’s most reliable defender over the past year, and his Nashville side currently sit in 4th place in the Western Conference.
Hit the comments to let us know what matches you are watching.