Weekend Preview: Bradley's big test in Norway, Miami on the brink, Turner vs. Man City, & more
September 22, 2023
THE WEEKEND in American soccer will see a huge number of games across the globe, domestically and abroad. Overall, it’s been a positive start to the European season with several players in better positions than before. Domestically, the MLS season enters into the final stretch and the playoff races are on.
Here is a look ahead to Saturday and Sunday.
Crystal Palace hosts Fulham on Saturday with three American defenders potentially able to participate. Last weekend, Chris Richards started for Crystal Palace in place of the injured Marc Guéhi and was whistled for a harsh penalty award late in a loss to Aston Villa. Whether or not Richards starts in this game will come down to Guéhi's availability. It was announced on Friday that Guéhi returned to training. Meanwhile for Fulham, Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson are typical starters for the Cottagers, but Robinson has been dealing with a muscle injury which kept him out of the USMNT's second game in the September window and last weekend's win over Luton Town.
Also in the Premier League, Matt Turner will have his hands full in goal when Nottingham Forest visit Manchester City - who are the reigning EPL and UCL champions and are also off to a perfect start this season.
Will Auston Trusty make his first EPL start on Sunday when his Sheffield United team host Newcastle? We will see but he made his EPL debut last weekend at the end of a heartbreaking loss to Spurs.
In the Championship, the biggest game will be for Duane Holmes who is playing great soccer for first place Preston North End. They visit Rotherham on Saturday when all the talk is whether or not PNE is for real.
Elsewhere, Charlie Kelman did not get off the bench for QPR in its 0-0 away draw to Birmingham City on Friday night.
Lynden Gooch and Stoke City host Vaughn Covil and Hull City on Sunday. Haji Wright and Coventry City host Huddersfield on Monday. Josh Sargent remains out for Norwich (at Plymouth Argyle) as does Daryl Dike for West Brom (vs. Millwall).
In Serie A, there will be a lot of eyes on AC Milan on Saturday when they host Verona. The club is coming of a brutal week where they lost to Inter Milan 5-1 in the city's derby and then played to a 0-0 draw with Newcastle at home in the Champions League opener. How will they respond. After a great start to the season, Christian Pulisic did not play well in either of the last two games and it's a question mark whether he starts. Yunus Musah, however, was sharp off the bench in the Newcastle draw and made a good case that he could be in line for a start. Milan really needs a strong performance in this game.
Juventus visits Sassuolo on Saturday on the heels of a big 3-1 win last weekend over Lazio. Weston McKennie was very impressive in that game playing in his new wingback role and it is reasonable to expect that he starts again. Tim Weah, for now, appears to be McKennie's backup.
In Serie B, Venezia looks like a promotional contender with Tanner Tessmann and Gianluca Busio both starting. Expect them to continue in their roles on Saturday when they visit Brescia.
On Friday night, Palermo lost its first game of the season on a stoppage time goal at home to Cosenza 1-0. Kristoffer Lund came off the bench at the half in the loss.
Meanwhile in the second tier, forward Andrija Novakovich will hope to spark Lecco's offense on Sunday when they visit Modena. Lecco is looking like it could be in line for a tough relegation battle ahead.
In the Bundesliga, Gio Reyna might get his first action of the season on Saturday when Borussia Dortmund hosts Wolfsburg. Signs have been pointing in that direction and Reyna made the bench midweek for BVB's loss to PSG in the Champions League. This game, however, seems more likely he could get on the field. Meanwhile for Wolfsburg, Kevin Paredes will likely be on the bench.
Two Americans could face each other when Union Berlin hosts Hoffenheim on Saturday. Brenden Aaronson came off the bench midweek in a heartbreaking loss to Real Marid in the Champions League. He is not yet a clear starter for Union but regardless if he starts or not, Aaronson could really use a strong performance. John Brooks, however, should start in central defense for a surging Hoffenheim team that has won three in a row under American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo.
Joe Scally and Jordan Pefok could both start for Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday when they host RB Leipzig. Pefok scored his first goal of the season, and his first for M'Gladbach, last weekend in a 3-3 draw against Darmstadt. M'Gladbach trailed that game 3-0 at the half. Scally was pulled at halftime of that game and has had a tough start to the season.
On Suday, Lennard Maloney should start for Heidenheim in central defense when they visit Bayer Leverkusen. Maloney and company won their first ever Bundesliga game last weekend in a 4-2 victory over Werder Bremen.
Paxten Aaronson started for Eintracht Frankfurt midweek in a 2-1 win over Aberdeen in the Conference League. It wasn't all great for Aaronson who was pulled at the half. On Sunday, Eintracht hosts Freiburg and it is most likely Aaronson will be on the bench. It seems less clear Timothy Chandler will even make the bench for Eintracht.
In the 2.Bundesliga, German-Americans Julian Green and defender Maximilian Dietz should start for Greuther Furth when they host Karlsruher. Furth sits in 16th place in the 18-team league.
Also on Saturday, Johan Gomez could start at forward for 17th place Eintracht Braunschweig against Nurnberg. Terrence Boyd, meanwhile, will likely be on the bench on Sunday for seventh-place Kaiserslatuern when they host eighth-place Hansa Rostock.
Houston-born manager Fabian Hurzeler and sixth-place St. Pauli host 13th-place Schalke on Saturday.
Spain & France
On Friday, Folarin Balogun and Monaco hosted Nice and the game was a disaster for Folarin Balogun who started and played 64 minutes in a 1-0 loss. Balogun ended up missing two penalties.
On Sunday, Emmanuel Sabbi will hope to make his first start in Ligue 1 for newly promoted Le Havre when they host Clermont Foot.
In La Liga, Luca de la Torre will have a huge task ahead of him when his Celta Vigo team travels to face Barcelona. Celta Vigo suffered a tough 1-0 loss to Mallorca last weekend and are drifting towards the bottom of the table and heading into another potential relegation fight.
In the Segunda, Konrad de la Fuente is injury and will not play for Eibar on Friday at FC Cartagena. Meanwhile, Jonathan Gomez will hope to make his first start for Mirandes when they host Leganes.
On Friday, Standard Liege hosted Westerlo with both Bryan Reynolds starting for Westerlo and Marlon Fossey starting at right wingback for Standard. The game ended 0-0 with Westerlo remaining at the bottom of the table with Standard also in the bottom third.
On Saturday, Alex Mighten will likely be on the bench for Kortrijk away at Sporting Charleroi. Kortrijk has just two points from seven games and Mighten recently arrived at the club on loan from Nottingham Forest.
Sam Vines, meanwhile, is likely unable to play for Antwerp when they host RWDM.
Mark McKenzie will likely start for Genk when they host Sint Truiden. McKenzie scored a huge late equalizer for Genk in a 2-2 draw against Italy's Fiorentina on Thursday in the Conference League.
Finally, Gaga Slonina will likely be in goal for Eupen when they visit Gent. Eupen has lost two in a row and will visit a Gent team that has an impressive 14 points from six games.
Taylor Booth is not expected to be back for Utretch when they visit NEC Nijmegen on Saturday. Taylor's younger brother, Zach Booth, will hope to make his first team professional debut for Volendam when they host Heracles on Saturday. Volendam are last in the Eredivisie without a single point from four games.
The Yank trio of PSV Eindhoven wll visit Almere City on Saturday. As is the norm, Sergino Dest should start for PSV. Malik Tillman and Ricardo Pepi will only start if PSV manager Peter Bosz rotates his squad following the club's ugly 4-0 loss to Arsenal on Wednesday in the Champions League. PSV is one of three Eredivisie teams (along with AZ and Twente) that has a perfect 12 points from four games. Almere City, meanwhile, is second from the bottom with just one point from five games (but also the worst goal differential in the league at -10).
Djordje Mihailovic will hope for minutes when AZ visits PEC Zwolle on Sunday. AZ is perfect this season (12 points, 4 games) but had a disastrous start to their Conference League campaign when they squandered a 3-0 lead against Zrinjski Mostar to lose 4-3. Mihailovic did not play in that game so there is a good chance he will feature against PEC. For PEC Zwolle, Anthony Fontana will hope to make his Eredivisie debut.
Finally, Florida-born winger Agustin Anello will hope for his first start for Sparta Rotterdam when they host Vitesse on Sunday.
In the Eerste Divisie two Americans played in games on Friday night. Gedion Zelalem started and played 90 minutes for FC Den Bosch in a 4-1 loss to Roda JC Kerkrade. Justin Che played 82 minutes at right back for ADO Den Haag in a 1-1 draw with Telstar.
MLS Playoff races are on
The weekend in MLS will see the playoff races take another step between those aiming to host a game and those just hoping to play a post season game.
NYCFC is the only team outside of Miami to show a pulse in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference. They host a bad Toronto team and could have the chance to sneak into the last playoff spot.
Meanwhile, DC United will hope to hang onto that spot when they host the offensively inept New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
All eyes will be Inter Miami on Sunday when they visit Orlando City without Lionel Messi or Jordi Alba. The stakes are huge in this game. If Miami can pull off a win, the playoffs go from unlikely to likely. Orlando City had been surging but put up a stinker on Wednesday in a 2-0 away loss to NYCFC.
Leader’s Line ft. David Ruiz pic.twitter.com/FSeT9N5Sgt— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) September 22, 2023
Philadelphia - LAFC on Saturday night should be one of the better games in the league this weekend as the two have developed a nice rilvary recently as the best in either conference over a long period of time. It also helps that two are managed by two of the better American managers in Philly's Jim Curtin and LAFC's Steve Cherundolo. LAFC needs to win this to have any chance to make up ground on West leading St. Louis. Philly could climb into second place with a win.
Dallas and Columbus will meet in Texas on Saturday night. Columbus looks like a team with MLS aspirations behind an attack led by Cucho Hernandez and Diego Rossi. Dallas, meanwhile, is coming off a huge win over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday to move into the final playoff spot of the West. But the chase in the West has a lot more competent teams than the East, so Dallas needs results. A win here would go a long way.
CAN WE GET OUR CAPTAIN A FULL SIZED MICROPHONE ?????— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) September 22, 2023
Paul Arriola walks us through his goal vs. RSL. pic.twitter.com/BshTFKedzc
Minnesota United will hope to reverse a four-game winless skid on Saturday when they host leaders St. Louis. Minnesota has tumbled out of the playoff positions and need to get back on track to avoid what would be a massively disappointing early end to the season without the playoffs. St. Louis, meanwhile, needs to win to keep LAFC and Seattle at safe distance atop the table.
The San Jose Earthquakes are also facing a gut-check moment after a tough loss midweek to Portland. Portland, Dallas, and Minnesota could all theoretically overtake them this weekend if they don't win. That would put them out of the playoffs. In their way will be a Nashville team that had been struggling but who posted a big win over Sporting KC on Wednesday with the return of Walker Zimmerman. San Jose should expect a result at home against an Eastern opponent. If they don't get it, they're in trouble.
The same is true for Real Salt Lake which hosts Vancouver on Wednesday. RSL has been in brutal shape after the Pablo Ruiz injury. They're going to need to find a way to win without him. This team cannot fail to win at home twice in three days. But Vancouver will be a tough opponent as they are looking for a top four finish in the West.
Portland should be expected to keep their recent surge alive on Saturday when they host the poor Colorado Rapids. Keep an eye on Portland's Evander, who is finally playing like the DP many expected him to be.
Houston is one of the league's most impressive teams since the summer and they could move into second place. On Saturday they visit Sporting KC. But are the Dynamo looking ahead to the U.S. Open Cup final midweek? SKC is out of the playoff spots by three points (and have played two more games than the team they're chasing (Dallas). If SKC doesn't win this game, they could be done.
???????????? https://t.co/lTRrSvvH58— Héctor Herrera (@HHerreramex) September 21, 2023
Austin FC hosts the Galaxy on Sunday. The loser of this game is essentially done. The winner has a faint pulse.
The Revs visit Chicago in a match up between teams with more questions off the field than on the field. The Revs need this game to start heading into the postseason playing well. If they lose to the imploding Fire, it's alarm bells for the Revs.
Atlanta United is heavily favored at home against Montreal. Montreal could use an upset to hold onto its playoff spot.
Charlote also needs an upset win against Cincinnati to climb into the playoff spots, but that is extremely unlikely.
In Scotland, Livingston hosts Celtic on Saturday. Scott Pittman will hope to start for Livingston while Cameron Carter-Vickers is still injured for Celtic. Dante Polvara scored for Aberdeen in a tough 2-1 loss at Eintracht on Thursday in the Europa League. He will hope to start on Sunday when they host Ross County. Joe Efford will be lucky to feature for Motherwell when they visit a surprisingly down Rangers team.
In Norway, Bob Bradley inherited a mess at Stabaek. They sit second from last place in the top tier and are four points from the relegation playoff (they do have two games in hand). But on Saturday, they host last place Aalesund. If Bradley wants to lead his team to survival, this is a must-win game.
Hyggelig besøk av Bærumsball på Brakka i dag. Én time med Bob Bradley om Stabæk-returen her: https://t.co/bo2hPRPgVz— Stabæk Fotball (@Stabaek) September 14, 2023
Elsewhere in Norway, it is a big game for Sam Rogers who will likely start for Lillestrom when they host Rosenborg on Sunday. Rogers was with Rosenborg until this club when the club benched him and later sold him. Kobe Hernandez-Foster will likely be on the bench for HamKam against Sarpsborg on Sunday. Christian Cappis will likely be on the bench for Molde when they visit Stromsgodset on Sunday.
In Sweden, Joe Gyau and Degerfors host Malmo on Saturday.
In the Austrian Bundesliga, George Bello and LASK host Hartberg on Sunday. Sebastian Soto is still injured for Austria Klagenfurt and will miss Saturday's game against Austria Lustenau.
In Portugal, Alex Mendez will likely be a bench option for Vizela when they visit Estoril.
In Denmark, Jonathan Amon did not get off the bench for Lyngby in a 1-1 draw with Vejle Boldklub on Friday.