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Soccer on TV: Cristiano Ronaldo makes highly anticipated Manchester United return

Plus big games in MLS, the NWSL, Italy's Serie A, Germany's Bundesliga, and more.

Cristiano Ronaldo is back at Manchester United, the club that made him a global superstar in the 2000s.
Cristiano Ronaldo is back at Manchester United, the club that made him a global superstar in the 2000s.Read moreJON SUPER / AP

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers

Friday, 10 p.m. (ESPN+)

The Whitecaps have lost just one of their last 11 games over all competitions. But that one was a big one: a 4-3 defeat to British Columbia neighbors Pacific FC in the Canadian Championship cup tournament that cost manager Marc Dos Santos his job.

Led by summer acquisition Ryan Gauld, Vancouver is now in eighth place in the Western Conference, just one point out of a playoff spot. A win in this Cascadia Cup rivalry game would see the ‘Caps jump over the sixth-place Timbers, who are coming off back-to-back road wins at Seattle and Houston.

» READ MORE: MLS playoffs schedule to feature Thanksgiving Day game on Fox

St. Johnstone vs. Rangers

Saturday, 7:30 a.m. (CBS Sports Network)

St. Johnstone definitely isn’t one of Scotland’s bigger names. Its homely stadium McDiarmid Park seats just 10,696, and the club has spent its share of time in the second division over the years. But the Saints have been quietly impressive in the last decade, and last year won a surprising Scottish Cup and League Cup double. This weekend, they will look to spring another surprise as they host Steve Gerrard’s reigning Scottish Premiership champions.

Manchester United vs. Newcastle United

Saturday, 10 a.m. (USA Network, Universo)

It’s not certain that this will be Cristiano Ronaldo’s first game back at Manchester United, but all signs are pointing that way. This will be the most-watched game around the world this weekend, and it will draw plenty of viewers in the United States.

Now it’s up to Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to make Ronaldo fit in a lineup that already has Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, and Ronaldo’s Portuguese compatriot Bruno Fernandes. That said, Rashford and Sancho are out injured at the moment, so the hardest decisions on who gets benched can wait a little while.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's Premier League schedule

Napoli vs. Juventus

Saturday, noon (Paramount+)

Bad news travels as fast as ever these days, so they’re well aware in Italy that United States manager Gregg Berhalter sent Weston McKennie home from World Cup qualifying for breaking COVID-19 protocols twice. Univision reported that McKennie had an unauthorized guest in his hotel room, and ESPN reported that McKennie spent another night outside the hotel bubble.

McKennie’s early arrival back in Turin means he’ll have rested in time to play in this game. But he already was out of favor due to a reputation for off-the-field issues there, having been suspended by Juventus in April for hosting a party that was broken up by police.

Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, the nation’s most widely read newspaper, reported that Juventus’ front office is strongly disappointed in McKennie’s rule-breaking. We’ll see if that has further ramifications.

» READ MORE: CBS launches new Serie A studio show

RB Leipzig vs. Bayern Munich

Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

American Tyler Adams likely won’t play for Leipzig after a long shift with the U.S. men’s national team, and Alphonso Davies almost certainly won’t play for Bayern after suffering an injury in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw between the U.S. and Canada. But this is a big contest no matter who is playing, because it’s Bayern visiting its top challenger for this season’s Bundesliga crown.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's Bundesliga schedule

New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United

Saturday, 7 p.m. (ESPN+)

It’s fitting and poignant that these two teams meet to renew MLS’ most-played rivalry series on Sept. 11.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's MLS schedule

Club América vs. Mazatlán

Saturday, 10 p.m. (Univision 65, TUDN)

This is América’s last Liga MX game before facing the Union in Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League semifinal at Subaru Park.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's Liga MX schedule

Montpellier vs. Saint-Étienne

Sunday, 7 a.m. (beIN Sports Xtra)

Among notable players who weren’t on the recent U.S. national team roster for this month’s World Cup qualifiers, Nicholas Gioacchini is one to watch. He just secured a loan move from French second-division club Caen to first-tier club Montpellier. If he can get consistent playing time and score some goals, he should move up the U.S. depth chart.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's Ligue 1 schedule

North Carolina Courage vs. Portland Thorns

Sunday, 3 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

The NWSL’s biggest game once again has plenty of significance. North Carolina can tie Portland atop the standings with a win, though the Thorns would still have a game in hand.

» READ MORE: Subaru Park to host Gotham FC’s Oct. 6 game vs. Washington Spirit as a celebration of Carli Lloyd

Real Madrid vs. Celta Vigo

Sunday, 3 p.m. (ESPN+)

Real Madrid returns to the Santiago Bernabéu stadium after 18 months at its reserve team’s facility. The club’s traditional home is in the midst of a multi-year renovation that will see a retractable roof built over the stands, and a retractable field built in the middle of them. The work is expected to be done by the end of next year.

Celta is still coached by former Union midfielder Eduardo Coudet. The squad includes Argentine winger Augusto Solari, whose cousin is Club América manager Santiago Solari — who will coach against the Union next week. Small world.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend's La Liga schedule