Saturday, September 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Games to Watch: Liga MX, MLS, NWSL, International Friendlies

Games to Watch returns from its World Cup hiatus today. Even though the European club seasons don't start for a few weeks, your remote control will still be quite busy over the next few days.

Games to Watch: Liga MX, MLS, NWSL, International Friendlies

This post has been corrected. In the original version I wrote that Michael Orozco Fiscal was looking to get out of Puebla. That isn't true (at least as far as I know). The linked story refers to DaMarcus Beasley, who is looking to get out of Puebla, and may have already done so. I replaced Beasley with Orozco Fiscal before I published the post and forgot to take out the second sentence. That was dumb on my part and I apologize for the confusion.

Games to Watch returns from its World Cup hiatus today. Even though the European club seasons don't start for a few weeks, your remote control will still be quite busy over the next few days.

Puebla at Tijuana

10:25 p.m. Friday (WZPA-33.7, Azteca America, ESPN Deportes)

The 2014 Liga MX Apertura campaign kicks off this weekend. Among the first games on the calendar is a clash between two teams that feature Americans on their squads.

Former Philadelphia Union and U.S. national team centerback Michael Orozco Fiscal plays for Puebla. Tijuana's roster features a slew of Yanks: defenders Edgar Castillo and Greg Garza, midfielder Joe Corona and Fernando David Arce, and forwards Paul Arriola and Hérculez Gómez.

You've probably heard of all those Xolos except Arce. He's a 17-year-old dual Mexican-American citizen who's currently playing with the U.S. Under-20 national team, alongside Union midfielder Zach Pfeffer. Arce's father, also named Fernando, has 47 caps with El Tri's senior squad dating back to 2003. It will be quite a story if the son commits his international future to the north side of the Rio Grande.

If you're interested in watching more Liga MX action, you should know that TV rights are sold by each club for its own home games. In the U.S., games are spread across Univision networks, Telemundo networks and a partnership between Azteca America and ESPN Deportes.

Azteca America has an affiliate in Philadelphia, WZPA. It's also available on Comcast, Verizon FiOS and DirecTV, but not RCN and Dish Network. You can also get it over the air with a digital antenna by tuning to channel 33.7.

Here's a breakdown of which networks have rights to which teams:

Univision, UniMás, Galavisión and Univision Deportes (11 teams)

Atlas
Chiapas
Chivas Guadalajara
Club América
Cruz Azul
Leones Negros de Universidad de Guadalajara (newly promoted)*
Monterrey
Pumas UNAM
Tigres UANL
Toluca
Veracruz

* - No, this is not a rebranded version of the more familiar Tecos. That club's affiliation was with Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, which is not the same thing. I say "was," because Tecos no longer exists. They were moved to Zacatecas and rebranded after losing the 2014 Clausura promotion playoff to Leones Negros. And you thought rebrands and relocations of old teams only happens in the United States.

Telemundo and mun2 (2 teams)

Leon
Pachuca

Azteca America and ESPN Deportes (5 teams)

Puebla
Morelia
Quéretaro*
Santos
Tijuana

* - Yes, Quéretaro still exists. The team was taken over by the Mexican government back in March when its owner was accused of playing a central role in a multi-million dollar global money laundering scandal, but it's still alive. And former Vancouver Whitecaps striker Camilo Sanvezzo is still there.

Tottenham Hotspur at Seattle Sounders

4:00 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

Now that the World Cup is over, the summer friendly season kicks off. First up is a reunion game for Sounders and U.S. national team star Clint Dempsey, who moved from Spurs to Seattle last summer.

Tottenham's squad features three members of the Belgian team that knocked Dempsey out of the World Cup: defender Jan Vertonghen and midfielders Mousa Dembélé and Nacer Chadli.

I know some of you pay attention to the broadcasters assigned to games (and I do too). This game will feature Jon Champion, who won resounding praise for his work at the World Cup, on play-by-play. He'll be joined by former U.S. national team and Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller, as well as sideline reporter Mónica González.

Los Angeles Galaxy at Sporting Kansas City

6:00 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

It's the only meeting of the year between the last two Major League Soccer champions. Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane lead L.A. against Kansas City's World Cup star tandem of Graham Zusi and Matt Besler. This game will also feature the unveiling of the official match roster for next month's MLS All-Star Game.

Boston Breakers at Portland Thorns

5:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2)

The countdown to next summer's Women's World Cup in Canada begins now, and so does the National Women's Soccer League's national TV slate. This game features a pair of U.S. national team stars, Portland's Alex Morgan and Boston's Heather O'Reilly.

Both teams also have players with local ties. Haverford native Sinead Farrelly plays for the Thorns, and former Philadelphia Independence fan favorites Joanna Lohmann and Lianne Sanderson play for the Breakers.

Tottenham Hotspur at Toronto FC

7:00 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

Spurs' next stop on its North American tour features another reunion, this time with Toronto striker Jermain Defoe. The veteran Englishman has been a stellar signing for TFC, with 10 goals and 2 assists this season.

Liverpool vs. AS Roma

7:00 p.m. Wednesday (NBCSN)

Liverpool's first game after selling controversial star striker Luis Suárez will take place at Fenway Park. It may be an unusual soccer venue, but it's no surprise for this game: club owner John Henry also owns the Red Sox. The matchup is no surprise either, as Roma owner James Pallotta is a Boston native.

It's also worth nothing Roma will be in Philadelphia next month. As part of the Guinness International Champions Cup, they'll play fellow Italian giant Inter Milan on August 2 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Manchester City at Sporting Kansas City

9:00 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

International friendlies don't have true stakes, but a matchup of the reigning MLS and Premier League champions is worth highlighting. Manchester City is still led by midfield general Yaya Touré and striker Sergio Agüero. Sporting may give some playing time to 17-year-old defender Erik Palmer-Brown, who has already been courted by Italian giant Juventus.

Chicago Fire at San Jose Earthquakes

10:30 p.m. Wednesday (NBCSN)

There's no getting around it: these are two of MLS' worst teams. But it will be a huge game for Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski, as he returns home for the first time since his open-goal miss cost the U.S. a chance to beat Belgium in the World Cup. If San Jose is to make a late run to the playoffs, Wondolowski will have to get his scoring form back in a hurry.

Former U.S. national team midfielder Stuart Holden will call this game alongside John Strong. Holden is still working through injury rehab (as he so often has been in recent years, sadly), with an eye towards returning to the field for Bolton after the new English season starts.

Holden has previously worked for Fox and ESPN, so he's not new to TV. Joining NBC's crew puts him in a rare group of people who have completed the MLS TV hat-trick, working for all three of the league's rights-holders over the years. Others who have achieved the feat include Glenn Davis, J.P. Dellacamera, Brian Dunseth and Kyle Martino.

Manchester United at Los Angeles Galaxy

11:00 p.m. Wednesday (Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes)

The Rose Bowl is a fitting backdrop for a meeting of two teams with lots of star power. Among the big storylines is that it's new United manager Louis van Gaal's first game in charge of the Red Devils. He'll have most of the team's stars at his disposal, including summer signings Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw. The only big name absent will be striker Robin van Persie, who was given a few well-deserved weeks of vacation after the World Cup.

About this blog
The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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