Friday, September 19, 2014
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Seven hot matches

The group stage of the European Championship concludes, and Major League Soccer resumes play after a break for CONCACAF World Cup quaifying.

Seven hot matches

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The group stage of the European Championship concludes, and Major League Soccer resumes play after a break for CONCACAF World Cup quaifying.

Czech Republic at Poland

2:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN; ESPN3.com)

Any international tournament is made more entertaining when a host nation does well. After tying Greece and Russia, Poland can qualify for the quarterfinals of the European Championships with a win over the Czechs in Wrocław.

The Czechs weren’t expected to do much, but thanks to their win over Greece, they too can reach the quarters by beating the home team. Poland will look to forward Robert Lewandoski for goals, while the Czech Republic will rely on veterans Tomáš Rosický and Milan Baroš.

FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo

7:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2; ESPN3.com)

The only meeting of the year between Major League Soccer’s two Texas clubs takes place in Houston, which means a sea of orange will be on hand at the new BBVA Compass Stadium.

The Dynamo are expected to unveil their new designated player, Honduras midfielder Óscar Boniek García. FC Dallas’s offense will be powered by forward Blas Pérez, who helped lead Panama to consecutive wins in World Cup qualifying last week.

Netherlands vs. Portugal

2:30 p.m. Sunday (ESPN; ESPN3.com)

Euro 2012's “Group of Death” concludes with all four teams still able to reach the second round.

After carrying huge expectations coming into the tournament, the Netherlands has been a huge disappointment in losses to Denmark and Germany. But the Dutch can still advance with a two-goal win over Portugal in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and a German win over Denmark in Lviv (2:45 p.m. Sunday, ESPN2).

Will Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk bench selfish midfielder Arjen Robben, or perhaps the defensive-minded Nigel DeJong? He may have to.

New York Red Bulls at Chicago Fire

5:00 p.m. Sunday (NBC Sports Network)

Chicago midfielder Marco Pappa became the latest villain of American soccer this past Tuesday when his scorching free kick turned a U.S. win at Guatemala into a 1-1 draw. It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction he gets from fans in the Windy City this weekend.

New York will bring the rest of the star power, as the forward tandem of Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper has combined to score 20 goals this season.

Italy vs. Ireland

2:30 p.m. Monday (ESPN; ESPN3.com)

Italian fans’ nerves were frayed enough before Euro 2012 started by yet another match-fixing scandal in Serie A. Now their team, one of Europe’s perennial powers, must win this game in Poznań, Poland after only managing ties against Spain and Croatia.

The Azzurri have historically been at their best when the pressure is highest. Will they get the job done again, or will Ireland - coached by Italian legend Giovanni Trapattoni - pull off the upset?

England vs. Ukraine

2:30 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN; ESPN3.com)

We won’t know the full ramifications of this game, to be played in Donetsk, until after Friday’s second round of Group D games are complete. But we already know a few things.

England will get star striker Wayne Rooney back after a two-game suspension. Ukraine, led by legendary striker Andriy Shevchenko, can reach the quarterfinals with a win. And France and Sweden, who will be playing simultaneously in Kiev (2:45 p.m., ESPN2), will be watching the scoreboard carefully.

Germany vs. Denmark

2:45 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2; ESPN3.com)

Germany has stormed to a perfect start so far in Euro 2012, with Mario Gomez accounting for all three goals through two games. But they haven't qualified for the knockout rounds yet, and Denmark is also still alive.

If Denmark and Portugal both win, Germany could be eliminated on goal difference. The Danes will look to rising young star Christan Eriksen as they try to pull off the upset in Lviv, Ukraine.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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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.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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