5 to Watch This Weekend
Does Sunderland v. Everton Mean Altidore v. Howard?
Every start, every minute, every touch counts for the U.S. national team players hoping to secure passage to Brazil. Here is Christopher McCollum's curated guide to weekend soccer viewing.
SATURDAY IS JAM-PACKED
April 11, 2014
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with soccer action from start to finish, beginning with Tim Howard’s race for Champions League glory and Sunderland's desperate drive to avoid relegation. Will Jozy Altidore be part of the Sunderland squad that squares off against Everton? We'll find out soon enough.
Sunderland vs. Everton
10:00 a.m. (all times Eastern)
NBC Sports Live Extra
This could be a dream weekend for Howard and Everton. Last week played out as they hoped, with the Toffees knocking off Arsenal to pull within one point of the fourth and final Champions League spot. Theoretically, it should be a cakewalk against last-place Sunderland, which has just one point from its last seven games. The Black Cats have opted to go without Jozy Altidore lately, sending the American striker down to the reserves while the first team tries to stave off relegation. Arsenal has an FA Cup game on Saturday, and won't play its next Premier League match until Tuesday. Everton is in prime position to rise to fourth place—at least for a few days.
Tigres vs. Tijuana
You won’t get to see Jose Torres play after his red card incident earlier in the week but, as usual, Tijuana’s side will be loaded with Americans. Anywhere from three to five Yanks could appear at any given game, with regulars Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona more likely to see time ahead of Greg Garza, Herculez Gomez, and Paul Arriola. With only three games remaining before the playoffs, it’s the usual Liga MX logjam as five points separate third place from 16th place, and seven teams battling for the final playoff spot. Tijuana is sitting in seventh place on goal differential, but is tied on points with America and Pachuca—the fifth- and sixth-place teams.
FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders
Was last week the breakout game that Clint Dempsey has been waiting for? After a long drought and questions about his form, Dempsey answered critics with a hat trick when it mattered most—against arch-rivals Portland. Now with four goals on the season and looking invigorated, Deuce appears to be cutting loose. It will be a good opportunity to see Shane O’Neill in action, as he’s tapped by many as the future solution to the U.S. national team’s back line woes.
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
Cap off your Saturday night with this West Coast clash. A potential playoff matchup, L.A. vs. Vancouver should provide a good test for both teams. Landon Donovan has yet to find the back of the net in the young season, but it’s only a matter of time. For Vancouver, it’s another chance to see Jay DeMerit play in the twilight of his career.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Columbus Crew
With Omar Gonzalez’s stock falling, Clarence Goodson is in prime position to step into a starting central defender role in Brazil. Up top, Chris Wondolowski is firing on all cylinders with five goals in seven games so far in 2014, and he has to be considered a strong candidate for the World Cup. On the other side of the field, Michael Parkhurst is another likely invitee.
Christopher McCollum is a New York City-based writer and an ASN contributor.