It’s an international break weekend, with international friendlies and Euro qualifiers. As recently as 2 years ago international break weekends meant a reduction in the amount of soccer available to watch as most leagues cease play, but the appetite for soccer in this country just seems to keep growing and the options are amazing! But even with the international break, with or without their stars, MLS teams keep going as teams still vie for the last remaining playoff spots. Here’s what’s worth watching:
(As always, ACNQ=African Cup of Nations Qualifiers; BIS=beIN Sports; CSN=Comcast Sports Network; EQ=Euro Qualifier; FS2=Fox Sports 2; MLS=Major League Soccer; NBCSN=NBC Sports Network; UD=Univision Deportes; UD2=Univision Deportes 2; UM=UniMás)
Thursday Oct 9
1:30-4pm. ESPN2. EQ. Slovakia v Spain. Spain won their first qualifier in style, absolutely mauling Macedonia at home. Playing on the road at Slovakia will be a somewhat tougher test.
1:30-4pm. FS2. EQ. England v San Marino. England gets a chance to beat up on someone, for once.
8-10pm. ESPN2. International Friendly. Mexico vs Honduras. Although Mexico did eventually make it to the World Cup, their last qualifying campaign was a disaster. Can they regain their position as the feared titan of CONCACAF? They Dynamo will be giving up two vital players for the Honduran team as they desperately fight to squeeze into the playoffs.
9-10pm. FS2. UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Highlights Show. Catch all the best from the day’s games.
Friday Oct 10
1:30-4pm. FS2. EQ. Wales v Bosnia-Herzegovina. Gareth Bale’s Wales against Vedad’s native Bosnia. This should be a good one.
5:40-8pm. ESPN. International Friendly. USA v Ecuador. This is an interesting game. Ecuador is a strong, physical team. US coach Jurgen Klinnsman has largely drawn on an inexperienced roster to start the process of determining which young players will prove vital for the next World Cup Qualifying campaign. Yet at the same time, this game is meant to honor the national team career of Landon Donovan, arguably the best American player ever, who is retiring at the end of the year. Don’t miss it!
9-11pm. NBCSN. MLS. Seattle Sounders FC v Vancouver Whitecaps. Seattle may have already clenched a playoff spot, but they are locked in an extremely tight race with LA for the Supporter’s Shield, the award for the best regular-season team, and the resulting home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Vancouver, meanwhile, has been pushed out of the playoff slots with Portland’s Thursday night win. But Vancouver is only 2 points behind Portland and has a game in hand. The pressure is on.
9-11pm. FS2. EQ. Netherlands v Kazakhstan.
11pm-12am. FS2. UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Highlights Show. Catch all the best from the day’s games.
Saturday Oct 11
7-9am. BIS. International Friendly. Brazil v Argentina. This was the World Cup final many were hoping for, but Brazil’s absolute capitulation to the Germans in the semis prevented it. Always a passionate match. Multiple re-airs throughout the day.
9:30-11:30. BIS. ACNQ. Congo DR v Côte d’Ivoire. I really enjoy African soccer. Unlike European soccer there is a much higher degree of unpredictability of the results. Catch something unique.
11am-1pm. FS2. EQ. Scotland v Georgia.
12-2pm. BIS. ACNQ. Sudan v Nigeria.
1:45-4pm. ESPN3.com. EQ. Poland v Germany. Can Poland hold off the seemingly unstoppable mannschaft?
3-5pm. BIS. ACNQ. Guinea v Ghana.
6-8pm. UD. MLS. New York Red Bulls v Toronto FC. The battle for playoff spots in the East continues. After managing to lose to the Dynamo Thursday despite being at home with a man advantage for 35 minutes, Toronto now faces NY on the road, needing to make up 3 points in 3 games or face their ninth season in existence with still no playoff appearences.
Sunday Oct 12
1-2am. FS2. UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Highlights Show. Catch all the best from Saturday’s games.
11am-1pm. ESPN3.com. EQ. Estonia v England. A somewhat tougher test for England in their second game of the international break. Can they get the expected result?
1:45-4pm. FS2. Luxembourg v Spain. Spain are the defending champions, but their World Cup campaign was dismal. Their first Euro qualifier sent a message to the world that they were back, but the 5-1 win was at home over lowly Macedonia. Luxembourg is no giant of soccer, but the Spanish will still need to get a result away from home.
2-4pm. CSN/UM. (Repeats at 5pm on UD2) Houston Dynamo v DC United. If you can’t go in person (because like me you have a PDF game at 3:45), record to watch later. DC United have been the class of the East, while the Dynamo still have to gain 4 points over their final 3 games over 5th-place Columbus. And it starts with beating DC, and they’ll have to do it without Hondurans Boniek and Garrido, essential parts of the midfield. Can the Dynamo get it done and make their 9th playoffs in 10 years?
4-6pm. ESPN2. International Friendly. Mexico v Panama.