Saturday, April 18, 2015

Games to Watch: NWSL title game, MLS, Serie A kickoff, EPL

Houston Dynamo at Sporting Kansas City

Games to Watch: NWSL title game, MLS, Serie A kickoff, EPL

Houston Dynamo at Sporting Kansas City

8:00 p.m. Friday (NBCSN)

Thanks to three straight years of clashes in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference playoffs, these teams have developed a healthy dislike for each other. The streak could end this year, though, as Houston is struggling. But with new signing DaMarcus Beasley on board to boost the defense, you can't count the Dynamo out yet. They'll give a good test to Graham Zusi, Matt Besler and the reigning MLS champs.

Manchester United at Burnley

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7:45 a.m. Saturday (NBCSN)

Is it already time to panic at Old Trafford? Louis van Gaal has yet to win an official game in charge of United, including a humiliating dismissal from the Capital One Cup on Tuesday by third-tier MK Dons. But on the same day, van Gaal got a big boost by signing Argentine winger Angel di Maria. United smashed the British transfer record to bring him to Manchester, sending a $99 million check to Real Madrid.

Burnley, meanwhile, spent less than $8 million on its entire team this summer after being promoted to the Premier League. This should be the Red Devils' first win of the season, but the way things are going, who can be sure?

Juventus at Chievo Verona

11:55 a.m. Saturday (beIN Sport)

The reigning champions of Italy's Serie A kick off the new season. Juventus' stacked midfield features French playmaker Paul Pogba, one of Europe's hottest prospects, though seemingly immortal field general Andrea Pirlo is out with a bruised him. Chievo barely avoided relegation last year, and will hope that 13-goal scorer Alberto Paloschi can help the Flying Donkeys (yes, really) stay up again.

New York Red Bulls at D.C. United

2:30 p.m. Sunday (NBCSN)

The 76th edition of MLS' most-played series will stir old memories for fans of both teams.

D.C., coached by Middletown native Ben Olsen, sits atop the East. The four-time MLS champs have a real chance to win the conference for the first time since 2007.

New York recorded MLS' best regular-season record last year, but is now holding on for dear life to the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls need everything they can get out of Bradley Wright-Phillips, the league's top scorer, and veteran star Thierry Henry.

FC Kansas City at Seattle Reign

3:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2)

The National Women's Soccer League's two best teams clash in this year's title game. Seattle is favored, and not just because they're at home. The Reign are led by U.S. women's national team stars Megan Rapinoe, Sydney Leroux and Hope Solo. Kansas City counters with Lauren Holiday, Amy Rodriguez and Pottstown native Nicole Barnhart.

United States at Czech Republic

2:00 p.m. Wednesday (NBCSN, UniMás)

The long road to the 2018 World Cup in Russia begins next week, as Jurgen Klinsmann calls the national team together for the first time since it left Brazil. Klinsmann’s 22-man squad is heavy on youth: 10 players are under 24, six have no senior squad experience, and one - forward Jordan Morris - is still in college at Stanford. Other new names to watch include a 17-year–old Rubio Rubin and 21-year-old Joe Gyau.

Philly.com
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The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, the National Women's Soccer League, the U.S. men's and women'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
Lauren Green Inquirer Staff Writer
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