Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Games to Watch: MLS Cup conference finals, EPL, Mexico-New Zealand

Sporting Kansas City at Houston Dynamo

Games to Watch: MLS Cup conference finals, EPL, Mexico-New Zealand

Sporting Kansas City at Houston Dynamo

2:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC, Univision Deportes)

Kansas City and Houston might not be the flashiest teams in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference, but they're always among the most successful. So it's no surprise that Sporting and the Dynamo are meeting in the playoffs for the third straight year.

Kansas City has never beaten Houston in the postseason. If Graham Zusi and company can get over the hump this year, they'd host the MLS Cup final. Houston, meanwhile, has all the momentum. Brad Davis and Omar Cummings led the way in an upset of No. 1-seed New York, and now the Dynamo get the first leg of the conference final on home turf.

New York Cosmos at Atlanta Silverbacks

7:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN3.com, ESPN Deportes)

Your eyes aren't deceiving you: the New York Cosmos really do exist again. One of the most famous team names in American soccer history came back to life this year in the second-tier North American Soccer League. Now they've reached the NASL's championship game, which carries the old Soccer Bowl title. You won't see many famous names on the field, but the Cosmos do have former Spanish national team midfielder Marco Senna.

US Sassuolo at AS Roma

8:55 a.m. Sunday (beIN Sport)

Thanks in part to American star Michael Bradley, Roma has yet to lose in 11 Serie A games this season. The giallorossi should be able to keep that streak going against one of the Italian top flight's worst teams.

Arsenal at Manchester United

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

It might not be English soccer's best rivalry, but no game better symbolizes the Premier League's global might than this clash of perennial titans.

Mesut Özil, Olivier Giroud and Arsenal head north to Old Trafford as the best team in the EPL this season - and fresh off an immense win at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. Arsenal's perch is one that United used to own, but new manager David Moyes is currently stuck in eighth place. A win over the Gunners would go a long way towards calming Red Devils fans' nerves.

Brazil Women at United States

3:30 p.m. Sunday (NBC)

The U.S. women's national team plays plenty of games, but not many friendlies against fellow powerhouses. Although Brazilian superstar Marta won't be there, veteran forward Cristiane leads a Samba Queens squad that is still South America's best. The American squad features the usual big names, including Alex Morgan, Lauren Holiday and Delran's Carli Lloyd.

Portland Timbers at Real Salt Lake

9:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)

The Western Conference final could have been a matchup of big money and big stars if Seattle and Los Angeles had qualified. But they didn't, and quite frankly, they didn't deserve to. The Timbers and RSL were the two best teams in the West throughout the regular season, and they've proven themselves in the playoffs.

So settle in for a series that will be full of aesthetically pleasing soccer. Portland's Diego Valeri and Salt Lake's Javier Morales are classic playmakers who support great forwards in Ryan Johnson and Alvaro Saborío. Each team also has midfield veterans who are true leaders in Will Johnson and Kyle Beckerman. And if you must have some defense, goalkeepers Nick Rimando and Donovan Ricketts are among MLS' very best.

I don't know what the TV ratings will be. I don't know what the national buzz will be, at least until the series gets to Portland in two weeks. I do know that the action on the field will be terrific, and if you're a soccer fan, that should sell itself.

New Zealand at Mexico

3:15 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN, Univision)

It's do-or-die time for Mexico. El Tri's last hope of qualifying for next year's World Cup is a two-leg playoff that will span half the globe.

Miguel Herrera, Mexico's fourth head coach this year, has called in an entirely domestic-based roster. That will solve chemistry problems caused by the team's big-ego foreign legion, and it should still be enough to beat the Kiwis. But in futbol as in football, you never know until you actually play the game.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected