Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Seven Hot Matches

Featuring the Euro 2012 final, the Copa Libertadores final, and the U.S. women's national team's final tuneup before the Olympics.

Seven Hot Matches

Chicago Fire at Sporting Kansas City

8:00 p.m. Friday (NBC Sports Network)

Major League Soccer enjoyed a bonanza of offense last week, as 52 goals were scored in 15 games from Wednesday through Sunday. That trend could continue in this game, as two teams with plenty of firepower face off in the heartland. 

Kansas City’s C.J. Sapong and Kei Kamara will look to rebound on home turf after being routed by the Union at PPL Park last weekend. Chicago is riding a two-game winning streak, and will rely on speedy forward Dominic Oduro to put the finishing touch on service from creators Marco Pappa and Sebastian Grazzini. 

United States women vs. Canada

2:00 p.m. Saturday (NBC)

The U.S. women’s national team plays its final game before heading to the Olympics at Rio Tinto Stadium in the suburbs of Salt Lake City.

It will be a showdown of two of the world’s top forwards, as the U.S.’ Abby Wambach duels with Canada’s Christine Sinclair. But Wambach’s attacking partner, Alex Morgan, could steal the show. She has scored a whopping 17 goals in 14 national team games this year.

New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC

7:00 p.m. Saturday (Galavisión)

The Eastern Conference’s best team visits its worst, but the standings might not tell the whole story in this game. Toronto has shown signs of life since firing manager Aron Winter and replacing him with MLS veteran Paul Mariner - as evidenced by Wednesday's 3-0 rout of the Impact in Montréal.

Beating a Red Bulls squad led by prolific scorers Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper may be too much to ask of Toronto, but the Reds should at least produce a spirited effort.

Los Angeles Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes

10:00 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2; ESPN3.com)

Expect fireworks on the field and in the sky as an old-school MLS rivalry gets new life.

A sold-out crowd at Stanford Stadium will watch the league’s top goalscorer, San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski, lead his team against a Galaxy squad that has reeled off two straight impressive wins. It has taken a while, but L.A. finally is back to looking like the team that won last year’s MLS Cup.

Spain vs. Italy

2:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN; ESPN3.com)

The championship game of Euro 2012 is full of intriguing storylines. Start with Spain, which is trying to become the first team to ever win back-to-back Euro titles. Sandwiched around their 2010 World Cup triumph, it would make for one of the greatest dynasties in soccer history.

Italy, meanwhile, looks to continue the momentum gained from a stunning 2-1 win over Germany in the semifinals. Enigmatic striker Mario Balotelli commanded the spotlight by scoring both Azzurri goals.

These teams met in the group stage and played to a 1-1 draw. This time, there will definitely be a winner. 

Atlético Mineiro at Gremio

5:30 p.m. Sunday (GolTV) 

Remember Brazilian midfielder Ronaldinho? Although he left AC Milan last year to return to his native country, he hasn't stopped making headlines. Earlier this month, he walked out on Flamengo, the Brazilian club that brought him home, after suing the team over unpaid wages.

Ronaldinho then signed with Atlético Mineiro, where he has registered one goal and one assist in three games so far. Though he has lost some pace over the years, he still has the fancy footwork that made him famous around the world.

In this game, he’ll face former national team teammate Gilberto Silva. The 35-year-old former Arsenal midfielder joined Gremio last year after moving from London to to Greek club Panathinaikos in 2008. 

Boca Juniors at Corinthians 

8:30 p.m. Wednesday (Fox Deportes)

The second leg of the championship round of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s most prestigious club tournament, takes place in Sao Paulo. The first leg, at Boca’s famed Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires, finished in a 1-1 tie, so Corinthians has the advantage coming home. 

Both of these clubs are big names in South America. Boca, one of Argentina’s superpowers, won the tournament four times in the 2000s. Corinthians is one of Brazil’s most passionately supported teams, but had never made the Libertadores final until now. 

Players to watch include veteran Boca midfield wizard Juan Román Riquelme and young Corinthians forward Romarinho, who scored the tying goal in the first leg.

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.

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

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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