Thursday, April 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Seven Hot Matches

Featuring the UEFA SuperCup and the U.S. women's national team's first game since the Olympics.

Seven Hot Matches

Chelsea vs. Atlético Madrid 

2:30 p.m. Friday (Fox Soccer Channel)

Some of European soccer’s biggest names take the field in Monaco for the UEFA SuperCup, as Champions League winners Chelsea face Europa League winners Atlético. All eyes will be on Chelsea forward Fernando Torres, who first rose to prominence in the red-and-white stripes of Madrid’s second most popular team. Athlético is led by its own scoring sensation, Colombian forward Radamel Falcao.

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids

10:30 p.m. Friday (NBC Sports Network)

Stuck in the midst of another disappointing season, Portland got a jolt of energy this week with the announcement that Caleb Porter will take over as the team's head coach next year. The dynamic coach of Akron University and the U.S. Under-23 national team will be called upon to get the best out of his team’s young stars, including midfielder Darlington Nagbe and former Union forward Danny Mwanga.

For now, though, Portland is seeing out the rest of the season under interim manager Gavin Wilkinson. At least the Timbers Army will bring another great atmosphere to a national TV audience.

United States Women vs. Costa Rica

2:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC)

The star-studded U.S. women’s national team reunites for the first time since winning the gold medal at the Olympics in London. Expect a packed house in soccer-mad Rochester, N.Y., hometown of Abby Wambach. 

This game will be the first of a 10-game victory tour that will travel across the country in the coming months. Stops announced so far include Los Angeles (Sept. 16), Denver (Sept. 19), Chicago (Oct. 20) and East Hartford, Conn. (Oct. 23).

Arsenal at Liverpool

8:25 a.m. Sunday (Fox Soccer Channel)

The game of the weekend in the English Premier League features two teams that desperately need a win after poor starts to the season.

Arsenal can rightly say they’re undefeated, but both of their games so far have been dour scoreless draws. Liverpool suffered a 3-0 rout at West Brom on the opening weekend, then recovered somewhat with a 2-2 draw against reigning champions Manchester City last Sunday.

But both teams’ fan bases demand wins – and there are few more passionate supporters anywhere in England than those who will pack storied Anfield for this clash of titans. 

AZ Alkmaar at PSV Eindhoven

8:25 a.m. Sunday ESPN3.com

U.S. national team forward Jozy Altidore has enjoyed a terrific start to the season with his Dutch club team, AZ Alkmaar. He is the Eredivisie’s top scorer so far, with four goals in three games. This clash against one of the Netherlands’ traditional Giants will provide Altidore with another big state on which to showcase his form. 

Eindhoven’s roster includes three familiar faces: Dutch national team regulars Mark van Bommel and Orlando Engelaar, and Canadian national team stalwart Atiba Hutcinson. 

Paris Saint-Germain at Lille

3:00 p.m. Sunday (Univision Deportes)

PSG has been the biggest flop of the early season in Europe. Despite spending nearly $200 million in transfer fees this summer, the team from France’s capital has only managed ties in all three of its games so far. 

Lille has risen to prominence in recent years by developing some great attacking players, such as new Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard. This year, though, the team’s biggest achievement hasn’t come from a player. After spending the last decade in an 18,000-seat multipurpose stadium, Lille now plays in a state-of-the-art, 45,000-seat soccer hotbed. Expect it to be packed to the rafters for this game.

Valencia at Barcelona

3:55 p.m. Sunday (beINSport)

After losing the Spanish SuperCup to Real Madrid, Barcelona looks to rebound in league play with a home clash against the team that finished third in La Liga last season. Valencia will rely on powerful forward Roberto Soldado to try to upset the team that finished in second place last year – by a 30-point margin.

As of now, beINSport is only available on DirecTV and Dish Network – and the latter does not carry the channel in high definition. But the channel recently agreed to a much-sought carriage deal with Comcast, and is expected to be available on local cable systems by September 6.

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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