Soccer on TV: Will the Union play New England or New York City in the Eastern Conference final?
Plus the last game of the U.S. women's team's tour of Australia, and big clashes in the Liga MX playoffs and English Premier League.
Australia vs. United States
Tuesday, 4 a.m. (ESPN)
Whether you wake up early with the diehards, DVR the game to watch later, or are reading this after the fact and will look to find a replay online, here’s what to know about the U.S. squad Down Under: it’s in great hands with the new crop of players brought in by manager Vlatko Andonovski. They showed it in a 3-0 win over the the Matildas in Sydney over the weekend to start the two-game tour.
Standout players included goalkeeper Casey Murphy, who made eight saves in her U.S. debut; right wing Margaret Purce, who torched the Australian defense; and right back Sofia Huerta, who showed she can give the Americans much-needed depth at a position where it’s long been lacking.
No one is pulling the U.S. veterans off the stage yet, not even Andonovski. Nor is this the first time the program has brought in new players after an Olympics, only to face criticism from some fans for doing something many others wanted. But it is a reminder that this is the real reason why Andonovski was hired to succeed Jill Ellis. So far, he’s getting it right.
Qatar vs. Bahrain
Tuesday 11 a.m. (FS2)
The kickoff of FIFA’s Arab Cup resurrects a tournament for men’s national teams across the Middle East and north Africa that was held on and off from 1963-2012. Naturally, this one is being used as a test event for seven of the venues that will host next year’s World Cup in Qatar.
The host nation is one of the favorites, and you saw the team’s quality when it was a guest at this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup. Other top teams in the field include Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, all of which are in the final round of African World Cup qualifying.
Don’t expect to see many familiar names, but here’s one you’ll definitely know: former Union goalkeeper Raïs M’Bolhi is Algeria’s captain. Les Fennecs’ opening game is against Sudan on Wednesday (5 a.m., FS1).
» READ MORE: More games to watch in the Arab Cup
Unami vs. Alavés
Tuesday, 1 p.m. (ESPN+)
The first round of Spain’s Copa del Rey kicks off this week. ESPN+ is carrying 16 of the round’s 56 games, and 10 of the 16 are the biggest Cinderella stories in the field: sixth-division teams hosting La Liga opponents. This one could include an American in Alavés centerback Matt Miazga, though he hasn’t played much lately.
This one is a Cinderella story for another reason. Unami is based in Segovia, about 57 miles northwest of Madrid. The city’s palace-sized castle on a hilltop inspired the most famous Cinderella story of all: the animated classic one written by Disney.
» READ MORE: The rest of this week's Copa del Rey schedule
Newcastle United vs. Norwich City
Tuesday, 2:30 p.m. (Peacock)
This game is a must-win for both teams if either is to get out of the Premier League’s relegation zone – Newcastle with its newfound Saudi riches, and Norwich with American striker Josh Sargent.
New England Revolution vs. New York City FC
Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. (FS1, Fox Deportes)
The game that will determine the Union’s next playoff opponent is loaded with storylines.
New England won the Supporters’ Shield with records for total points (69) and points per game (2.23), and has a trio of elite attackers in Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou and Tajon Buchanan. But the Revolution will take the field at Gillette Stadium having not played a game in 23 days, thanks to the November FIFA window, a first-round bye, and the NFL schedule forcing this game to be played well after the other conference semifinals.
On top of that, there’s a long history of Supporters’ Shield winners crashing in the playoffs. The regular-season champion has won MLS Cup just seven times in the league’s 25-year history, and no team has done it since Toronto FC in 2017.
New York City finished fourth in the East in the regular season, but heads north in red-hot form. The Pigeons are unbeaten in six straight games, including a 2-0 win over Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs. Valentín Castellanos opened the scoring in that game with his 21st goal of the year in all competitions. Nineteen of them came in the regular season, winning him this year’s Golden Boot award.
The winner will play the Union in Sunday’s Eastern Conference final (3 p.m., 6abc and ESPN Deportes). If it’s New England, the game will be at Gillette Stadium. If it’s NYCFC, the game will be at Subaru Park.
Everton vs. Liverpool
Wednesday, 3:15 p.m. (NBCSN, Universo)
The Merseyside Derby is always a big occasion, especially when Liverpool heads across Stanley Park to the blue half of the city. This will be the 239th edition of one of England’s great rivalries.
Tigres vs. León
Wednesday, 10 p.m. (Univision 65, TUDN)
The Liga MX playoff semifinals kick off with a clash between the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. Tigres has the bigger names in star winger Javier Aquino and striker André-Pierre Gignac, but León has home field advantage in the two-game series thanks to a one-point edge in the standings.
Manchester United vs. Arsenal
Thursday, 3:15 p.m. (Peacock)
For as much as Arsenal fans like to complain about their team’s lack of top-level talent, the Gunners have quietly risen to fifth place in the Premier League thanks to talented young midfielders Bukayo Saka (20), Emile Smith Rowe (21) and Martin Ødegaard (22).
Of course, the cynics will say Arsenal’s rise has been built on wins over clearly inferior teams, except for a 3-1 home win over rival Tottenham in late September. This game will tell us whether the Gunners can fire their way past better opposition.
» READ MORE: The rest of this week's Premier League schedule
Pumas vs. Atlas
Thursday, 10 p.m. (TUDN)
Both of these teams took down glamorous opponents in the Liga MX quarterfinals. No. 11 seed Pumas didn’t just beat No. 1 (by a lot) América, it laid down a 3-1 rout in the Estadio Azteca on Saturday night. No. 2 Atlas advanced past No. 9 Monterrey after a pair of ties in their series because the tiebreaker in Mexico is regular-season standings finish instead of away goals.