Seven Hot Matches
Featuring the great and small of the Premier League, and a classic MLS rivalry.
Seven Hot Matches
Jonathan Tannenwald, Philly.com
West Ham United at Swansea City
7:45 a.m. Saturday (ESPN2; ESPN3.com)
Contrary to what some people might believe, there are more teams in the Premier League than just the London and Manchester giants. This game features two of the league's so-called minnows, but the lack of star power could easily be made up for with hustle and a few goals.
West Ham are one of England's most historic teams, with famous former players including Bobby Moore and Paolo Di Canio. The current team is led by midfielder Kevin Nolan and Portuguese forward Ricardo Vaz Tê. Swansea will look for inspiration from Spanish forward Michu, who scored two spectacular goals in a 5-0 rout of Queens Park Rangers last weekend.
Fulham at Manchester United
10:00 a.m. Saturday (Fox Soccer Channel)
U.S. national team star Clint Dempsey has endured a rough start to the season at Fulham. After a transfer to Liverpool fell through, Dempsey reportedly refused to play, and was forced to train with Fulham's youth team by manager Martin Jol.
Manchester United, meanwhile, is in great shape. With Robin van Persie bolstering an already-potent attack, the Red Devils are primed to deliver a serious title challenge to crosstown neighbors Manchester City.
Schalke 04 at Hannover 96
11:30 a.m. Sunday (GolTV)
Even though GolTV has lost the rights to the Spanish and Italian leagues, it still has rights to one of the most entertaining leagues in Europe – Germany's Bundesliga. This game will feature two U.S. national team stalwarts, Hannover defender Steve Cherundolo and Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones.
FC Dallas at Los Angeles Galaxy
7:00 p.m. Sunday (NBC Sports Network)
After a dreadful start to the season, FC Dallas has won four straight game in August – including tough road tests against the Vancouver Whitecaps and Real Salt Lake. Now they're just five points back of Vancouver and Los Angeles, who hold the Western Conference's last two playoff spots.
Dallas' resurgence has no better symbol than midfielder Brek Shea. After being benched by coach Schellas Hyndman for two weeks in July, Shea got his confidence back by assisting on the game-winning goal in the United States' historic victory in Mexico. If that form carries over, teams across MLS will start getting nervous.
New York Red Bulls at Sporting Kansas City
9:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2; ESPN Deportes; ESPN3.com)
The marquee game of the weekend in MLS features the Eastern Conference's two best teams at what should be a raucous Livestrong Sporting Park. It's the first time this year that New York and Kansas City have met, with further meetings to come in September and October. Whichever team comes out on top is likely to finish first in the conference standings.
Santos Laguna at Toronto FC
8:00 p.m. Tuesday (Fox Soccer Channel)
Toronto FC's Cinderella run through the CONCACAF Champions League may finally be coming to an end. Despite winning four straight Canadian Championship tournaments, the Reds have perennially been one of the worst teams in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference.
Now they've been drawn with Mexican powerhouse Santos in the Champions League group stage, and only one team can advance to the knockout rounds. With a forward line that features U.S. national team star Herculez Gomez and Mexican Olympic gold medalist Oribe Peralta, Santos has proven itself to be one of North America's truly elite teams.
New York Red Bulls at D.C. United
8:00 p.m. Wednesday (Galavisión)
Major League Soccer's oldest rivalry has regained its edge this year, as both D.C. and New York are in the thick of the Easteren Conference playoff race.
The Red Bulls have scored the most goals in the conference this year, which matters a lot since goals scored is the first tiebreaker for playoff seeds. United hasn't lost at home since March 10. Something will likely have to give in this game.