Saturday, April 18, 2015

Games to Watch: UEFA Champions League Final, MLS, World Cup tune-ups

Correction posted May 27: The U.S.-Azerbaijan game is on Univision Deportes in Spanish, not UniMás. Apologies.

Games to Watch: UEFA Champions League Final, MLS, World Cup tune-ups

Correction posted May 27: The U.S.-Azerbaijan game is on Univision Deportes in Spanish, not UniMás. Apologies.

Derby County vs. Queens Park Rangers

9:55 a.m. Saturday (beIN Sport)

The finale of the promotion playoffs in English soccer’s second tier is known for good reason as “the world’s richest game.” One of these two teams will rake in over $165 million for winning promotion to the Premier League.

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Derby County, one of England’s oldest clubs, haven’t been in the top flight since 2008. 22-goal scorer Chris Martin leads the Rams’ charge into Wembley Stadium. QPR hopes to get back to the Premier League just a year after being relegated. They’ll look to veteran English defender Joey Barton and Canadian midfielder David “Junior” Hoilett for inspiration.

Atlético Madrid vs. Real Madrid

2:00 p.m. Saturday (Fox)

The UEFA Champions League final doesn’t just feature two teams from the same country, it features two teams from the same city. Don’t be surprised if it feels like all of Madrid has made the trip across Iberia to Lisbon.

This season, Atlético rode striker Diego Costa and charismatic coach Diego Simeone to its first Spanish league title. But they’re the underdogs against star-studded Real, led by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. Los Merengues desperately want their record 10th European Cup title. Their crosstown rivals would like nothing more than to spoil the party.

New York Red Bulls at Sporting Kansas City

7:45 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

After a strong start to the season Kansas City has lost two games in a row. The defending Major League Soccer champions have a hot striker in Dom Dwyer, but are missing World Cup-bound stars Graham Zusi and Matt Besler. New York brings MLS’ top scorer this season, Bradley Wright-Phillips, and the always-dangerous Thierry Henry.

Azerbaijan at United States

10:00 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN2, Univision Deportes)

It’s officially crunch time for the U.S. national team. Candlestick Park in San Francisco hosts the first of three games before Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad heads to Brazil. With Landon Donovan axed from the roster, the pressure is on Klinsmann and his players to deliver a strong performance.

Israel at Mexico

9:30 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN2, UniMás)

Has Mexico finally shaken off the ghosts of its tumultuous World Cup qualifying campaign? We’ll find out as El Tri takes the field on its home turf in Mexico City. Manchester United’s Javier Hernández and Villareal’s Giovanni dos Santos bring the international star power, but the key names come from the domestic league: forward Oribe Peralta and veteran defender RafaelMárquez.

Honduras vs. Turkey

8:00 p.m. Thursday (beIN Sport, Univision Deportes)

Honduras’ World Cup squad has a distinct MLS flavor. Midfielder Óscar Boniek García and forward Jerry Bengtson are among four catrachos who currently play in the league. Three others used to, including key midfielder Roger Espinoza. Los Catrachos will have home field advantage at RFK Stadium, as the D.C. area is home to one of America's largest Honduran expatriate populations.

Turkey isn’t going to the World Cup, but they are going to play the United States on June 1 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. So this game offers a chance to do some advance scouting.

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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
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