Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Seven hot matches

Some weeks, I have to stretch to find good games to feature. This time, it was pretty easy. Enjoy.

Seven hot matches

Travel Deals

Some weeks, I have to stretch to find good games to feature. This time, it was pretty easy. Enjoy.

Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona

3:50 p.m. Friday (ESPN Deportes; ESPN3.com)

Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola brings down the curtain on his glittering career with the Catalan giants in the Copa del Rey final. But this game, to be played at Madrid's Vicente Calderón Stadium, won't be a coronation. Athletic made the final of this year's Europa League, and the Basque club is second to Barcelona for most Copa del Rey titles.

Los Angeles Galaxy at Houston Dynamo

2:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC Sports Network)

Houston lost to Los Angeles in last year's MLS Cup final on the Galaxy's home turf. This year, the Dynamo get to host the season's only meeting between the two teams at their sparkling new BBVA Compass Stadium. David Beckham and company will face two big challenges: Houston midfield wizard Brad Davis, and the sizzling Texas sun.

England at Norway

2:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN3.com)

Newly appointed England manager Roy Hodgson officially takes over what is always one of the hottest seats in international soccer. With just weeks to go before the start of the European Championship, Hodgson faces a huge task: Turning one of soccer's perpetual underachievers into a team that can match the world's giants.

Scotland at United States

8 p.m. Saturday (NBC Sports Network; Galavision)

The countdown is on to the start of World Cup qualifying for the U.S. national team. This game, to be played at Jacksonville's EverBank Field, is the first of three friendlies for Jurgen Klinsmann's squad before the hard work starts in earnest on June 8.

Watch out for U.S. forward Herculez Gomez, whose goal-scoring prominence has rocketed him to stardom in Mexico's top league.

Cheltenham Town vs. Crewe Alexandra

10 a.m. Sunday (Fox Soccer Channel)

The glory of playing on a big stage isn't just reserved for Europe's big clubs. These two teams play in League Two, the fourth tier of English soccer's pyramid of leagues. They face off in a promotion playoff game at London's famed Wembley Stadium, and the winner gets to move up a division next season.

Crewe is led by striker Nick Powell, who scored 14 goals this season. Cheltenham goalkeeper Scott P. Brown anchored the fifth-stingiest defense in the league.

San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting Kansas City

4:30 p.m. Sunday (NBC Sports Network)

San Jose star striker Chris Wondolowski may be with the U.S. national team, but there will still be plenty of attacking talent across the field if so. Earthquakes forward Steven Lenhart has become one of MLS' most prominent pests, and gets great service from midfielders Tressor Moreno and Marvin Chavez.

Kansas City is led by the attacking trio of Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong, and Penn Charter's Bobby Convey.

Brazil vs. United States

7:30 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN2; Univision)

The name on the front of the opponent's jersey says it all in this one. Brazil is bringing a young squad ahead of the Olympics, but at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., the five-time world champions are still likely to field stars Neymar (Santos) and Alexandre Pato (AC Milan).

For the U.S., this could be the first time Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey - who is recovering from a groin injury - play together in Klinsmann's 10-month tenure at the helm.

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