By Jon Levy
Royal Wedding kicked off the weekend but the soccer should be nearly as exciting as a Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen dress (I googled that, I promise), so let’s just dive right in to your Americanized Weekend Preview and viewing guide.
This week’s marquee MLS matchup pits buddy forwards Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo against each other in a battle to see who can accrue more Twitter followers prior to their match on Saturday night. Bunbury holds an unfair Twitter advantage because Sporting KC teammate @ochocinco is a social networking workhorse and is helping his boy’s cause, while imploring women to feel sorry for the “lonely” young Canadian-American. Agudelo; however, holds an on-field advantage named Dwayne De Rosario and Thierry Henry (an on-fire Luke Rodgers can get a mention here too).
The real MLS match of the week, on paper at least, should be the Galaxy’s tricky visit to Pizza Hut Park to take on a large Brooklyn style supreme, I mean FC Dallas. The Hoops haven’t started the season well and are now without reigning MVP David Ferreira, but in a week full of mismatches in our fair domestic league, this fixture has potential. At the very least we’ll get to see if Landon Donovan can continue his Easter weekend resurrection and build on a stellar comeback performance.
And if you’re looking for a game that should be a good matchup going in, stay tuned to Feilhaber Watch 2011. The Maestro and the hapless-bordering-on-mediocre New England Revolution pay a visit to the team that didn’t think it was worth taking the USMNT middy with their top spot in the MLS allocation draft. Okay, their likely isn’t any real venom in this “Chivas USA vs. Benny Feilhaber” storyline, but two crappy teams can sometimes produce an instant classic.
The Americanized Premier League schedule for this weekend is highlighted by two American goalkeepers trying to keep (my) Jon Spector’s West Ham United in the race against relegation. Brad Friedel and Tim Howard will try to shutout West Brom and Wigan respectively. Meanwhile, Spector was set to reclaim his place on the bench as East London superhero Scott Parker returned from injury, but Mark Noble suffered an apparent hernia against Chelsea, so Spec may get to link up with Parker and Hitzlsperger in the midfield. Sadly the Hammers are taking on Manchester City; West Ham may not get much room to operate.
If you’re interested in the guy who just scored two goals en route to a midweek man of the match performance against Bolton, Fulham and their latest American hero, Deuce Dempsey, will pay a visit to Sunerland on Saturday.
And in the English Championship, Eric Lichaj’s Leeds squad actually has a decent shot at pipping Robbie Findley’s Nottingham Forest for the final playoff spot. With two matches left, Leeds plays Burnley this week (one of the teams they need to leapfrog), and finishes up the regular season against Queens Park Rangers, a club that will likely already be pounding champagne on the field, having assured themselves of promotion to the Prem.
While Jozy Altidore’s loan at Bursaspor is potentially more important to immediate US Soccer interests, I can’t help but find Freddy Adu’s loan to Rizespor a little more interesting. Jozy starts every once in a while but usually comes off the bench, and he scores a goal from time to time. Adu plays more, albeit in the second division, and once every few games he puts in a performance where he looks like a world beater, or at least a Bank Asya 1 League beater. This is all according to reports out of Turkey of course, as Cox Cable doesn’t offer the Ottoman Direct Kick package just yet. Granted, media reports that a talented midfielder took over a game are a dime a dozen in the soccer world, but I still get a little excited when Freddy actually excels. This week Rizespor visits Adanaspor, and though that sounds like quite a trip, I’m not really sure how far that is. What I can tell you is that Adu and his squad are fighting for the playoffs and promotion, which, if achieved, would mean that Freddy helped a team to a significant achievement in his midseason loan two years in a row (last year he and Eddie Johnson helped Aris into the Europa League).
Tigres and Pachuca sit at opposite ends of their respective Clausura Groups (read: “divisions”) heading into the final week of the regular season. It’s still too early to lay final judgment on Jonathan Bornstein’s transfer to Tigres, but the left back is certainly not an entrenched starter for the Group 1 leaders. It’s anybody’s guess as to whether he’ll see the field this weekend against Atlas.
Meanwhile, Pachuca sit last in Group 2, but are heavily reliant on two Americans. Jose Francisco Torres is a usual starter in the central midfield, and to say that striker Herculez Gomez is surging right now would be an understatement. Gomez has been so proficient in scoring goals off the bench recently (his specialty), that he landed in a starting spot last match and rewarded the manager with another one in the “G” column. Both Americans should start when Pachuca take on Group 1 cellar dwellers Necaxa. If form alone defined national team standing, Gomez would be in the running to start up top for the Yanks right now, either alone, or paired with Agudelo or Charlie Davies (who’s not even back to 100% yet). So watch or record the Pachuca/Necaxa match if you have the chance, and don’t give me any crap about the commentary being in another language. Deal. This is your last chance to see Herculez and JFT in action until the Spain match, Gold Cup, or late July.
Ricardo Clark recently found his way into the Frankfurt starting lineup, against Bayern Munich no less, and played a part in forcing a draw. I mention this because you might have forgot about Redcardo; don’t worry, he’s not offended. I also mention that draw because it helped Stevie Cherundolo’s Hannover 96 team vault over Bayern and into the final Champions League spot. Hannover will face a desperate version of Michael Bradley’s parent club, Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday. Cherundolo will start as always, and yes, DaMarcus Beasley is still on the club’s payroll; expect him to do more tweeting than playing. Timothy Chandler and Nuremberg are traveling to league leaders borussia dortmund on Saturday–should be a great opportunity for our new favorite right sided player to strut his stuff!
USMNT Captain Carlos Bocanegra and the currently middling St. Etienne take on Monaco.
Sacha Kljestan’s Anderlecht are in first place in the Belgian Jupiler League, and they’ll face fellow European competition regulars Club Brugge.
Clarence Goodson is back, he’s already scored a goal, and Brondby are cruising in their last two matches. They host AC Horsens on Sunday.
Finally, TYAC homeboy Maurice Edu, now ME 90 since MB Not in the 18 is you know, not in the 18, and Rangers travel to Motherwell in a game that has to be a must win, given their one point lead in the standings over Celtic. The Rangers have played one more game—and after a dramatic penalty-saving Allan McGregor secured an Old Firm draw last weekend, the Billies simply can’t afford to drop any more points. All in all- should be a great weekend.
Jon Levy is Co-Founder and Associate Editor of The Yanks Are Coming. We would like to congratulate him on his new job in Washington, DC—he deserves it greatly and he’s worked hard to get there. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and you should follow him and the West Ham relegation fight that dominates his Twitter feed at @TYAC_Jon.