Games to Watch: MLS, NWSL playoffs, Spanish Super Cup, EPL

Real Madrid at Atlético Madrid

4:25 p.m. Friday (ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com)

The Spanish SuperCup is set for a wild finish after a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Real. Now the scene shifts across town. Real has the stars in Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodridguez. Atlético has an electric home crowd and firepower of its own in Mario Mandžukić and Antoine Griezmann.

Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas

9:00 p.m. Friday, NBCSN

Call it Major League Soccer’s version of Friday Night Lights. Dallas, led by playmaker Fabian Castillo and out-of-nowhere rookie Tesho Akindele, hasn’t lost a league game since May 31. RSL, with U.S. national team stalwarts Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman, sits atop the Western Conference.

Arsenal at Everton

12:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC, mun2)

Tim Howard faces a big test in Everton’s first home game of the season, as Arsenal’s trio of German World Cup winners – Mesut Özil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker – return to the lineup. The Toffees will rely on Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku, one of the Premier League’s most powerful strikers.

Portland Thorns at FC Kansas City

1:00 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2)

The National Women’s Soccer League playoffs begin in the heartland. Portland barely snuck in, but Canadian striker Christine Sinclair is always dangerous. Standing in her way will be Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, a U.S. national team regular and Pottstown native.

The winner will advance to the championship game, and will face the winner of the second semifinal between the Seattle Reign and Washington Spirit (11:00 p.m. Sunday, ESPN2).

Manchester United at Sunderland

11:00 a.m. Sunday (NBCSN, Telemundo)

After being upset at home last weekend, the Red Devils pay a visit to Jozy Altidore and the Black Cats. New United manager Louis van Gaal would get a big boost if fellow Dutchman Robin van Persie can finish rehabbing his sprained knee and get on the field.

Seattle Sounders at Portland Timbers

5:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

In the last week, the Timbers have racked up nearly 10,000 air miles from two road games. They played at New England on Saturday, then flew to Guyana for a CONCACAF Champions League matchup on Tuesday. Now they’re back home to face Clint Dempsey and the Sounders in American soccer’s most famous rivalry.

Liverpool at Manchester City

3:00 p.m. Monday (NBCSN, mun2)

The top two teams in the EPL last season are set to make early-season headlines. Liverpool needs Daniel Sturridge to score even more goals with Luis Suárez gone.

Could that reinforcement come from a former City star? The Reds stunned the world Thursday when word got out that they’re negotiating to sign colorful Italian striker Mario Balotelli. If the deal gets done fast, Balotelli could make his Reds debut on City’s turf. Why always him?

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