Now three weeks away from the double set of World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala and the U-23 Olympic Qualifying playoff against Colombia, time is running short for players to “make their case.” The 21st season of MLS kicks off with players racing against time to prove form and fitness. There’s plenty of action for fans to follow along, including a host of head-to-head matchups for the MNT men.
There’s only one game on the Liga MX slate, which puts Tijuana-Leon on center stage. Michael Orozco and U-23 hopeful Paul Arriola host William Yarbrough and Miguel Ibarra at the Estadio Caliente. Xolos currently hold the final playoff spot, while Leon has marched to third place and within points of the league lead (10:20 p.m. - Azteca America).
The red-hot Fabian Johnson kicks off the Saturday viewing schedule as Moenchengladbach travel to face Wolfsburg (9:30 a.m. - FS2, FOXSOCCER2GO.com). Having scored eight goals this season and assisting on the opening goal of the 2-0 win midweek against Stuttgart, he has helped ‘Gladbach to reach fourth in the Bundesliga table. At the same time, Timmy Chandler and Alfredo Morales could square off when Frankfurt welcomes Ingolstadt (9:30 a.m. – GolTV, FOXSOCCER2GO.com). Just 30 minutes later action across the pond gets underway. Brad Guzan got the call last Tuesday against Everton and may go up against title contenders Manchester City at the Etihad (10 a.m., NBCSN) as Aston Villa desperately try to avoid relegation. After returning to action last week after missing more than six weeks with an ankle injury, Geoff Cameron and Stoke City face a tall order at Chelsea, where U-23 centerback Matt Miazga may once again make the game-day roster. DeAndre Yedlin posted an assist Tim Howard and Everton host West Ham. All three can be seen at 10 a.m. on NBC Sports Live Extra.
If you’re looking for a bridge between morning and evening viewing, watch U-23 prospect Gedion Zelalem and Rangers host Dundee in the quarterfinal of the Scottish Cup (2:30 p.m. – GolTV).
Night time is the right time for a double-header of Liga MX, where first Ventura Alvarado and Club America host Morelia following their Wednesday win against Seattle in the CONCACAF Champions League (6 p.m. – Univision Deportes Network). Right after, it’s league leaders Monterrey featuring Edgar Castillo against Tigres.
The full day of action starts none too early, kicking off with John Brooks holding the line in central defense as third-place Hertha Berlin travel to Hamburg (11:30 a.m., FS1). From there it’s MLS all the time. MLS Live and DirectKick will be your hosts throughout the day, beginning with U.S. captain Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore visiting Altidore’s old club New York Red Bulls (1:30 p.m.) Veterans Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando lead Real Salt Lake against a now-healthy Brek Shea and Orlando City (2 p.m.). At the same time, 2010 World Cup Mix Diskerud and Olympic hopeful Khiry Shelton visit the Windy City to meet the January camp trio of Sean Johnson, Matt Polster and rookie Brandon Vincent. Fresh off an impressive month with the senior team, Lee Nguyen looks to prove his point for March when the Revolution travel to Houston (3 p.m.). The San Jose Earthquakes duo Chris Wondolowski and MNT newcomer and goalkeeper David Bingham welcome the Colorado Rapids and their newest defender, U-23 back Eric Miller
Then it’s time to hit the big networks, with national coverage beginning with the rematch of the 2015 MLS Cup final, winners Portland Timbers and Darlington Nagbe hosting Columbus Crew (4:30 p.m., ESPN). FOX has its own savory affair and storylines, with Seattle Sounders trio of three-time World Cup veteran Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans and MLS debutant Jordan Morris bringing Sporting KC and the duo of Matt Besler and Graham Zusi to Century Link Field (7 p.m– FS1). Univision has the nightcap, with the restocked Los Angeles Galaxy and newly re-signed forward Gyasi Zardes taking on D.C. United (10 p.m., Univision Deportes Network).