Seven Hot Matches
Among the highlights: a showdown between Neymar and Diego Forlan.
Seven Hot Matches
Los Angeles Galaxy at Portland Timbers
11:00 p.m. Saturday (NBC Sports Network)
In their first game since firing manager John Spencer, the Timbers will face a tough test from the resurgent Galaxy. Landon Donovan has brought the defending MLS Cup champions back to life, and in this game they’ll have David Beckham back from a two-game suspension.
Last year, Portland shocked L.A. at JELD-WEN Field with a 3-0 rout. This year, they’ll look to the forward duo of Kris Boyd and Danny Mwanga to try to break down L.A. again.
Santos at Internacional
3:00 p.m. Sunday (GolTV)
Two of the biggest stars in Brazil’s league are likely to face off in this game. Neymar will lead Santos for the last time before he heads to London with Brazil’s Olympic team. Internacional will counter with veteran Uruguayan forward Diego Forlán, who just joined the team a few weeks ago.
But both teams will also be without important players. Santos midfielder Paulo Ganso has reportedly left the team due to a contract dispute, while Internacional midfielder Oscar is headed to Chelsea for a $30.5 million transfer fee.
Seattle Sounders at New York Red Bulls
4:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN)
At the start of the season, the star names in this cross-country showdown would have been a pair of strikers: Seattle’s Fredy Montero and New York’s Thierry Henry. It turns out that the headliners will still be strikers, but not those two.
Both teams’ top scorers are Americans looking to revitalize their national team prospects. Kenny Cooper leads the Red Bulls with 11 goals, and Eddie Johnson leads the Sounders with eight – including four in his last four games.
Union fans have two reasons to pay attention. The first is that their team will be at Red Bull Arena next weekend; the second is that at halftime, Ben Olsen will reveal his 18-player game day roster for the MLS All-Star Game at PPL Park.
Spain Under-19s vs. Greece Under-19s
5:00 p.m. Sunday (Gol TV, tape-delayed)
The championship game of the UEFA Under-19 European Championship gives Spain a chance to win its sixth title since the tournament’s current format was adopted in 2002. Greece’s best ever finish was second place in the 2007 edition – when they lost to Spain in the final, 1-0.
Both teams required extra time to win their semifinal matchups. Greece beat England, 2-1, on a 108th-minute lob over the goalkeeper by Charalambos Lykogiannis. Spain needed penalty kicks to oust France after 120 minutes of entertaining soccer finished in a 3-3 draw.
Spain’s squad is led by forward Gerard Deulofeu, a product of Barcelona’s famed youth academy. He scored two goals and the winning penalty kick in the semifinal.
D.C. United at Houston Dynamo
9:00 p.m. Sunday (Galavisión)
D.C., the Eastern Conference’s best team, visits a Houston squad that is perhaps the toughest to beat at home in MLS. A major reason for that is the excruciatingly hot summer weather in south Texas.
If the later-than-normal kickoff cools things down, United mifdielder Dwayne de Rosario – who helped Houston win both of its MLS Cups – could play a major role in taking down his old team.
Seattle Sounders vs. Chelsea
9:30 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN2; ESPN Deportes; ESPN3.com)
This summer’s World Football Challenge series of exhibition games begins in Seattle, where the usual huge crowd will be on hand to welcome the reigning UEFA Champions League winners for their United States tour. This could be the game where much-touted midfielder Eden Hazard makes his Chelsea debut.
Chelsea will play three additional games in America after this one. The Blues will face Paris Saint-Germain at Yankee Stadium on July 22; the MLS All-Stars at PPL Park on July 25: and AC Milan at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on July 28.
FC Dallas at San Jose Earthquakes
11:00 p.m. Wednesday (NBC Sports Network)
MLS’ decision during the offseason to stage its playoff championship game at the highest remaining seed drew wide approval. It increased the likelihood of a big crowd and a festive atmosphere.
But it also opened up a scenario that is becoming increasingly possible: putting the league’s signature spectacle at the Earthquakes’ 10,525-seat Buck Shaw Stadium. San Jose has MLS’ best record, and its best goalscorer in Chris Wondolowski. Expect more success against the Western Conference’s cellar-dwellers.