1412_lletgetsebastian_isi_usmntu17jd042109150 John Dorton/isiphotos.com
5 to Watch This Weekend

Where is the Best USMNT Action? We Have It Here

Could this be the weekend that a potential United States national team talent gets his debut first-team appearance? On national television no less? And your obligatory Michael Bradley sighting.

BY Jon Arnold Posted
January 04, 2013
9:56 AM
While American soccer fans still have a two-month wait for the return of MLS, this week brings the return to action of a handful of USMNT players after their leagues’ winter breaks. Liga MX, La Liga, and Serie A return to the field, as well as our TV screens, as Cup action takes hold in the UK. That’s a lot of options but have no fear: We’ve got the five matches USMNT fans must watch this weekend.

SATURDAY

West Ham v. Manchester United
Noon
FOX

No TV Guide needed for this one. FOX is taking advantage of having the late NFL playoff match Sunday and tapping Man U’s Cup match for the big-boy network. This is worth watching just so you know what your friends are talking about when they say they stumbled across a soccer match on broadcast TV. A larger treat than being the wise guy at the water cooler is the prospect of catching young American Sebastian Lletget making his first-team debut for West Ham. It’s not a likely prospect, but it’s soccer on broadcast TV. You’ve gotta tune in.

Tigres v. Jaguares
8 p.m.
Univision Deportes Network

Tigres has two fringe national teamers, though Jose Torres is admittedly much more likely to get a call from Jurgen Klinsmann in 2013 than Jonathan Bornstein. That is, unless Bornstein suddenly has a breakout season. And if he starts it against Jaguares Saturday night and you miss it, imagine how foolish you’ll feel.

We probably won’t see a Bornstein boon, but, in all seriousness, Torres’ integration in a squad that will contest the CONCACAF Champions League is a huge story line to watch for USMNT fans.

SUNDAY

Puebla v. Tijuana
1 p.m.
ESPN Deportes

Tijuana opened the 2012 Apertura campaign with a 2-0 win against Puebla that lacked any convincing elements on Xolos’ part. They, of course, went on to win the league. How will Edgar Castillo, Joe Corona, and a handful of young USMNT talents perform after their magical run? We’ll get our first glance at an answer when DaMarcus Beasley (who went off injured in the Apertura opener) and recent arrival Michael Orozco Fiscal...name triggers automatic video break:

So where were we? Ah, that’s right, Beasley and Orozco Fiscal, on loan from San Luis where he fell out of favor, welcome in defending champions Tijuana for the Clausura opener.

Napoli v. Roma
3 p.m. (tape delayed on beIN Sport at 9 p.m.)
beIN Sport Español

Michael Bradley and Roma are back in league action, and the competition is a bit stiffer than the Orlando City squad they played against on their U.S. trip.

I Lupi head to Napoli, a squad that sits two points above them in the table. Three points from this one and Roma are back in the Europe places in Serie A and back in business.

MONDAY

Cheltenham Town v. Everton
2:30 p.m.
Fox Soccer Plus

Everton has a less-than-top opponent, but the magic of the FA Cup sends Tim Howard (who may or may not play) and company to the 7,066 capacity Whaddon Road. Once 8,326 fans jammed the ground for a FA Cup match, but that was in 1956. This is worth starting your week with solely for the ground and atmosphere.

BEST OF THE REST
La Liga: Deportivo La Coruna v. Malaga (2 p.m., Saturday, beIN Sport Español, tape delayed at 4:40 p.m. on beIN Sport)— With some speculating Oguchi Onyewu will get a surprise call to the national team this month, see if he’s able to make his second La Liga appearance.

Liga MX: San Luis v. Santos (10 p.m., Saturday, Univision Deportes Network)—It has been too long since you’ve watched Herculez Gomez.

NO U.S. ANGLE BUT...
La Liga: Barcelona v. Espanyol (1 p.m., Sunday, beIN Sport)—After Portland Timbers forward Bright Dike’s goal for Nigeria in a friendly against their non-FIFA-recognized national team, Catalonian football might be getting the most press in its history Stateside. The momentum continues with the Barcelonan Derby.

FA Cup: Southampton v. Chelsea (10 a.m., Sunday, Fox Soccer)—Fox Soccer offers another chance to catch Chelsea against a Premier League side fighting relegation. This time, though, it’s a Cup match. See if the Saints trouble the Blues as much as QPR did during the week.

So what are you watching this weekend? Which matches did we miss that we should tune in for? Tell us in the comments. We love to hear from you!

Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) is a freelance writer based in Phoenix and the co-host of MLS in 30 on NASN.TV.

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