As 39 million drivers begin to celebrate their long weekend and fireworks fans tremble at the glut of explosions about to dominate the sky, soccer fans have an even bigger reason to celebrate. Looking at the MLS and international soccer schedule this weekend, there is no lack of quality, readily available matches to watch. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say this is the best weekend for MLS fans ever.
Why do I say that? Here are a few reasons:
Huge number of televised games: On a good weekend, an MLS fan can catch two national English language games on Fox Soccer and ESPN2, one Spanish language game on Galavision, and maybe one local game if they live in a local market. This weekend (which I am including Monday) there are five national English games and one Spanish game: Philadelphia v. DCU on Soccer Night in America; San Jose/NY, Colorado/Houston, RSL/New England, and LA/Seattle on ESPN2; and Chivas/Chicago on Galavision. That’s unreal and very welcome.
Many of the matches will be critical to playoff berths: Roughly halfway through the season and we have a few matches that will be key for playoff positioning. Philadelphia will look to remain atop the East while DC United looks to make a strong playoff push with its new lineup. Columbus could conceivably move atop the East with a win in Dallas. RSL, with multiple games in hand, can begin to climb back atop the West on Monday if they beat New England. And Los Angeles versus Seattle pits the top two teams in the Western Conference.
Soccer Night in America: Pick a subplot from the DC United v. Philadelphia Union match. Can Dwayne De Rosario impress in his first game with DC? Will Brandon McDonald play and help the DC defense? Is this a budding rivalry, with the two cities about three hours apart on I-95 and rivalries in other sports? Is Veljko Paunovic as good as he has looked so far and is he this team’s difference maker? And will the Union, who are about a goal a game on the road, stymie the DC offense? This will be a great game.
Nutrilite Canadian Championship: While the match-up may seem very familiar (the teams played each other on Wednesday), the winner of this match will get a CONCACAF Champions League berth. And the last time they played in the NCC, the match was called due to weather, so this will be an intense game.
Plenty of non-MLS games to watch: The Women’s World Cup continues this weekend highlighted by USA/Colombia on Saturday at noon (ESPN) and Brazil/Norway on Sunday. On July 4th, Mexico will face Chile in a competitive match shown on Univision as part of Copa America; Brazil and Argentina will also have matches this weekend.
What match-up are you looking forward to most this weekend?