Youth is served this week in global soccer as some new stars of the men’s and women’s games take center stage. We might also see Rose Lavelle get her first playing time for Manchester City. But let’s keep it as a might for now.
Here’s your viewer’s guide to the top action to watch over the next few days.
Newport County vs. Newcastle United
Wednesday, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Of the 16 teams still standing in England’s Carabao Cup, just three are from outside the Premier League: second-tier Stoke City and Brentford, and fourth-tier Newport County. Newport’s Cinderella status is enhanced by being a Welsh club in the English pyramid. Its 8,700-seat Rodney Parade stadium, which opened in 1877, is owned by Wales' national rugby program. Tristan Abrahams scored both goals in the 2-0 round of 32 win at Bolton Wanderers.
Newcastle’s Miguel Almirón, formerly of Atlanta United, has a goal and three assists in five games across all competitions this season.
Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund
Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Just when it seemed like Bayern Munich was going to streamroll everyone, the reigning German and European champions suffered a stunning 4-1 loss at Hoffenheim on Sunday. The day before, Dortmund lost, 2-0, at Augsburg, leading most pundits to wonder whether the Bundesliga title race was already over. Well, it’s not quite yet.
This game is the German SuperCup final, not a Bundesliga contest. But the timing might give the game some value beyond the trophy. It might also let us see Chris Richards play for Bayern, and it’d be even better if he and Dortmund’s Gio Reyna are on the field together.
Portland Thorns vs. OL Reign
Wednesday, 10 p.m. (Twitch)
Portland takes the field for the first time since marquee rookie forward Sophia Smith’s first goal as a pro. The Reign are coming off a come-from-behind 2-2 tie at the Utah Royals last Saturday in which last season’s rookie of the year, Bethany Balcer, scored a great goal.
Brentford vs. Fulham
Thursday, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
This Carabao Cup round of 16 game is a rematch of last season’s Premier League promotion playoffs final, which Fulham won. Brentford prevailing this time won’t make up for it, because the winner of that game got tens of millions of dollars, while the winner of this game gets ... another game. (And probably some cash, too, but not much.)
U.S. national team left back prospect Antonee Robinson helped Fulham record shutouts in its first two games of the tournament, 1-0 over Ipswich Town and 2-0 over Sheffield Wednesday.
Manchester City vs. Arsenal
Thursday, 2:15 p.m. (The FA Player)
Rose Lavelle seems set to finally make her Manchester City debut this week after getting acclimated to her new home. “She’s been patient. She’s worked tremendously hard,” manager Gareth Taylor said. “I think over the next two games, we’ll start to see some minutes for her.”
If she plays in this game, an FA Cup semifinal, Lavelle and Sam Mewis could line up against Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema and Daniëlle van de Donk, who were opponents in last year’s U.S.-Netherlands World Cup title game.
The other semifinal, Birmingham City vs. Everton (Wednesday, 2:15 p.m., The FA Player), will see Birmingham centerback Rachel Corsie, on loan from the NWSL’s Utah Royals, face Everton forward Valérie Gauvin, a veteran of France’s national team.
Celta de Vigo vs. Barcelona
Thursday, 3:30 p.m. (beIN Sports, beIN Sports Español)
With Barcelona, you know about Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong, and Philippe Coutinho already. And you’ve probably heard about the mess the team is in, with fans and Messi revolting against club president Josep Bartomeu.
If you don’t know about Ansu Fati, you’re going to real soon. The 17-year-old winger has been the talk of Spain lately, and the hype only grew when he scored two brilliant goals against Villarrreal on Sunday.
Barcelona still needs a house-cleaning from Bartomeu on down, and a re-prioritization of the youth academy that produced Messi, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, and many more legends. Fati provides a glimmer of hope that if the club does what it needs to, the pipeline can flourish again.