July is usually a quiet time on the soccer calendar, but not this year. In fact, this weekend is one of the best for soccer fans of the entire summer.
Here’s your viewer’s guide to the top games to watch on TV and online.
- Union wear police brutality victims’ names in MLS tournament-opening win over New York City FC
- Nashville SC out of MLS Orlando tournament due to coronavirus spread within team, Union’s schedule changes
- David L. Cohen, one of Philadelphia’s most famous power brokers, now leads the city’s 2026 World Cup hosting bid
Friday, 9 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)
ESPN’s decision to not have artificial crowd noise for its tournament games will look really good here, because Earthquakes coach Matias Almeyda is one of the league’s most charismatic managers. Seattle’s Brian Schmetzer is more reserved — though quite funny — and has two great strikers in Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz.
Saturday, 8 p.m. (Fox29, TUDN)
Some rivalries in MLS are made by geography, some are made by fans, and some are just made up. This one has real spice. Atlanta star Josef Martínez is out injured, but there’s ample firepower in Gonzalo “Píty” Martínez and Ezequiel Barco. They’ll test New York’s great defensive tandem of Aaron Long and Tim Parker.
Fox will use artificial crowd noise on its broadcasts, created from sampling past MLS games on the network. Natural-sound broadcasts will be available on Fox Sports’ website and apps.
Saturday, 3:45 p.m. (ESPN+)
Juventus is the headline act whenever it plays, with a seven-point lead atop Serie A and stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado. But Atalanta is the team to watch here: one of Italy’s smaller teams is fourth in the standings and heading to the Champions League quarterfinals. Colombian forward Luis Muriel leads the team with 18 goals in 34 games.
Saturday, 10:30 p.m. (FS1, TUDN)
New Cincinnati manager Jaap Stam finally makes his sideline debut in this game — no, the former Manchester United star wasn’t on board yet when the MLS season started. His players include Japanese forward Yuya Kubo and former Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin. Columbus, a darkhorse pick for a deep run, is led by playmakers Lucas Zelarayán and Darlington Nagbe.
Sunday, 9 a.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)
Toronto, last year’s MLS Cup runner-up, is led by U.S. veterans Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, and Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo. The Reds also have a new star in Argentine winger Pablo Piatti. D.C. is led by Peruvian playmaker Edison Flores, German-American winger Julian Gressel and veteran U.S. goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
Also Sunday: Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United, 8 p.m.; Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids, 10:30 p.m. (both on ESPN and ESPN Deportes)
Sunday, 11:30 a.m. (NBCSN, Telemundo)
North London’s perennial rivals are down on their luck this season: Harry Kane’s Tottenham is in 9th and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Arsenal is in 8th. The winner will have a good chance to get a Europa League berth next season; the loser will have a lot of work to do.
Sunday, 12:30 p.m. (CBS All Access)
Houston, led by Kristie Mewis and Rachel Daly, was the trendy team of the NWSL Challenge Cup until a surprising loss to Sky Blue FC on Wednesday. Washington should have Rose Lavelle starting again after some squad rotation in its last game.
Also Sunday: Chicago Red Stars vs. Utah Royals, 10 p.m. (CBS All Access)
Sunday, 5 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)
Louisville, with former Union manager John Hackworth and forward Antoine Hoppenot, opens a lovely new 15,000-seat stadium that next year will also welcome NWSL expansion team Racing Louisville FC. The game will have 5,000 fans in the stands, a huge gamble by the team and the league.
Monday, 12:30 p.m. (CBS All Access)
The most surprising plot twist of the NWSL Challenge Cup so far might be this: the Reign sit above the Thorns in the standings heading into the final first-round games. It’s a must-win for Lindsey Horan and Portland, and not just because the Reign are their perennial rivals. If Chicago beats Utah and the Thorns don’t win, Portland will finish the first round in last place — and face the Courage in the quarterfinals.
Also Monday: Sky Blue FC vs. North Carolina Courage, 10 p.m. (CBS All Access)
Monday, 10:30 p.m. (FS1, TUDN)
Galaxy stars Javier Hernández and Cristian Pavón will make their tournament debuts against a Timbers team led by wonderful playmaker Diego Valeri.
Also Monday: Los Angeles FC vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. (FS1, TUDN)