MLS All-Star Skills Challenge
Tuesday, 9 p.m. (FS1, TUDN)
This year’s Major League Soccer All-Star festivities in Los Angeles come with a twist that many people have been waiting for: a clash against an All-Star team from Mexico’s Liga MX. On the eve of the All-Star Game, players from the respective sides will compete in a fun test of shooting, passing, and other soccer skills.
The Union’s All-Stars this year are left back Kai Wagner, a choice of manager Bob Bradley; and goalkeeper Andre Blake, a late addition to the squad. Blake will be in the Skills Challenge instead of Orlando’s Pedro Gallese, who was voted to the team by fans and will be eligible for Wednesday’s game.
Bremer SV vs. Bayern Munich
Wednesday, 2:15 p.m. (ESPN Deportes, ESPN3)
The last game of the first round of this season’s German Cup is a David-vs.-Goliath treat. Bremer is an amateur club from a regional fifth-tier league based in the city of Bremen. The club has never faced Bayern in any competition. Its Instagram account had just 3,611 followers as of Monday night. Expect that to change soon.
Brøndby vs. Salzburg
Wednesday, 3 p.m. (Galavisión, Paramount+)
Brenden Aaronson scored the game-winning goal in the first leg of this UEFA Champions League qualifying playoff series, giving Salzburg a 2-1 victory at home. Aaronson is now one good result in Demark away from getting to play in this season’s Champions League group stage.
MLS All-Stars vs. Liga MX All-Stars
Wednesday, 9 p.m. (FS1, Univision)
It’s fitting that the first All-Star Game with this matchup is at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, a city that has done a lot to make Liga MX the most popular soccer league on U.S. television. Wagner is likely to play and maybe even start, but Blake might not because there are three goalkeepers on the squad. Matt Turner, picked by MLS All-Stars manager Bob Bradley, and Gallese were the original selections.
Speaking of U.S. television, there’s good news on the MLS viewership front. ABC and ESPN are averaging 384,000 viewers for their broadcasts, up 50% over last year and 39% over 2019. Fox and FS1 are averaging 231,000 viewers, up 14% over last year and 1% over 2019, with FS1 specifically (185,000 viewers per game) having its best season since 2015.
Univision and UniMás’ games in Spanish are averaging 302,000 viewers, up 21% over last year and 26% over 2019, with UniMás specifically (307,000 viewers) averaging its best-ever MLS season.
Portland Thorns vs. Gotham FC
Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
On Monday, Gotham manager Freya Coombe was announced as the first head coach of Angel City FC, one of next year’s NWSL expansion teams. Equalizer Soccer reported that Angel City received permission from Gotham to interview Coombe, whose contract expires at the end of this year. Notably, the permission came from former general manager Alyse LaHue, who was fired last month after the league got a complaint under its antiharassment policy.
Though it’s nothing new for coaches (especially in Europe) to sign pre-contracts to take over teams in the following season, those coaches don’t have to coach players whom they might take to their new teams in a forthcoming expansion draft. A few hours after the initial news broke, Equalizer reported that Coombe could leave before this season ends. On Tuesday evening, interim Gotham GM Yael Averbuch West announced that Coombe will leave after Saturday’s home game vs. Orlando.
Gotham FC’s supporters’ club, Cloud 9, took to Twitter to express its frustration over the behind-the-scenes moves made by a manager who has helped the team reach fifth place in the standings, one point out of third.
That point likely won’t come on a visit to the NWSL’s best team, which is coming off a thrilling triumph over French superpower Lyon in the Women’s International Champions Cup final. But Gotham is in a good place to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013, the league’s first season.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Paços de Ferreira
Thursday, 2:45 p.m. (Paramount+)
Tottenham started a team with a lot of reserves in the first leg of this Europa Conference League qualifying series. Paços, which finished fifth in the Portuguese last season, responded how one should when hosting an English giant that takes the game for granted: It dealt Spurs a 1-0 defeat.
We should see more of Tottenham’s regulars as the series shifts to North London, and Spurs should overcome the deficit. But the fact that Paços won the first game is a nice reminder that the other team can play soccer too, if you let it.
Pacific FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
Thursday, 10 p.m. (Fox Soccer Plus)
Victoria, B.C.-based Pacific of the Canadian Premier League gets to host the big boys from across the Salish Sea in the first round of the Canadian Championship, the nation’s cup tournament. There should be a lively crowd at Pacific’s 6,000-seat Westhills Stadium, and the home team is offering a promotion in which fans can trade in Whitecaps apparel for Pacific gear.
Pacific’s squad includes Whitecaps academy products Matthew Baldisimo, Marco Bustos and Terran Campbell, and its manager Pa-Modou Kah is a former ‘Caps player. Vancouver’s current squad is led by new playmaker Ryan Gauld, who scored the winner against LAFC on Saturday in the Caps’ first home game since Sept. 14, 2019.