Saturday, April 25, 2015

Seven Hot Matches

The United States women's national team returns to action this weekend.

Seven Hot Matches

Chelsea at Tottenham Hotspur

7:30 a.m. Saturday (ESPN2)

After helping to lead the United States into the next round of World Cup qualifying, Clint Dempsey returns to club action Saturday morning as Tottenham Hotspur welcomes longtime London rival Chelsea to White Hart Lane. 

Earlier this month, Dempsey helped Spurs record its first win at Manchester United in 23 years. This game will present just as tough a task, as Chelsea’s midfield is the most dynamic and creative in England. The trio of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar has been almost unstoppable so far this season. 

Athletic Bilbao at Valencia 

1:55 p.m. Saturday (beIN Sport English) 

Although Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate the headlines in Spain, there’s plenty of talent outside of those two powerhouses. This game will showcase two of La Liga’s best goalscorers in Valencia’s Roberto Soldado and Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente. 

Both men have scored at least 10 goals in each of the last four seasons. Expect big names across Europe to try to sign them during the winter transfer window. 

Germany Women at United States Women

6:30 p.m. Saturday (Fox Soccer Channel)

The U.S. has won all of the games in its post-Olympics victory tour so far, but they’ve all been against low-to-mid-ranking teams. This weekend they take a step up in class, beginning a two-game series against two-time World Cup champion Germany. 

The first game takes place at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., outside Chicago; the second will be Tuesday at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn. (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network). Jill Ellis will serve as the interim head coach while the U.S. Soccer Federation seeks a full-time replacement for the departed Pia Sundhage. 

An additional note about that Tuesday game: NBC Sports Network’s broadcast will be preceded by a replay of the U.S.-Canada Summer Olympics semifinal at 5:30 p.m. At 11 p.m., there will be a replay of the U.S.-Japan Summer Olympics gold medal game. 

Melbourne Heart at Perth Glory 

2:00 a.m. Sunday (Fox Soccer Channel) 

If you happen to still be awake in the wee hours of Sunday morning, you’ll see a familiar face in this live broadcast of Australia’s A-League. Former Philadelphia Union midfielder Fred has become a stalwart for the Melbourne Heart after spending five years in Major League Soccer. 

It’s Fred’s second sojourn Down Under, having played for the Melbourne Victory – the Heart’s biggest rival – in 2006 and 2007. The Brazilian midfielder has put down roots in Australia once again, and reportedly is interested in becoming a citizen there after this season. 

Los Angeles Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes

7:00 p.m. Sunday (Galavisión)

San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski is just two goals away from tying Major League Soccer’s all-time record for goals in a single season. The record has stood since 1996, when D.C. United’s Roy Lassiter scored 27 goals in the league’s inaugural season. 

Wondolowski has two games left to eclipse Lassiter’s mark, and Sunday night is the Earthquakes’ final home game. Considering that Wondolowski has scored seven goals in his last five games, it would surprise no one if he breaks the record. Even Lassiter himself is rooting for it to happen. 

FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders

9:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN) 

The stakes for FC Dallas are as simple as they come: a loss in this game will eliminate them from playoff contention. It will be a tough task - Seattle has lost just one home league game since May, and it was against Western Conference-leading San Jose. 

And it may all be moot anyway by the time this game kicks off. If the Vancouver Whitecaps win at home over Portland on Sunday, they’ll take the West’s last playoff spot, and become the first Canadian team ever to reach MLS’ postseason. 

Manchester City at Ajax Amsterdam

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

There could be few better matchups between new-money flash and old-time soccer romanticism than this contest. 

Once upon a time, Ajax was the dominant team in Europe, with Dutch superstars such as Johan Cruyff and later Patrick Kluivert. Now, Ajax is the soccer equivalent of a mid-major – still a big name, but without the money and muscle to sign marquee talents. 

These days, players like Javi Garcia and Samir Nasri take their talents to the English Premier League’s financial giants. Every once in a while, though, Ajax can still dig up a gem. The Dutch champions have one in Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen, who is key to any hopes of an upset in this game.

Philly.com
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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
Lauren Green Inquirer Staff Writer
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