Crunch Time: OOPH! That’s gonna leave a mark!!
Welcome to the Weekend Commentary Thread
Crunch Time Part 5. Three weeks left in the EPL and most other senior leagues. A great time for cliches, but lets avoid those. So Tottenham and Clint Dempsey welcome a Southampton team to White Hart Lane on Saturday that has been fading fast, good news for Spurs, who need every point to stay in the UCL hunt. Dempsey scored the winner last time the teams met. Three points from Tottenham would put them equal with Chelsea, although goal differential is a factor. Chelsea don’t play till Sunday, when they face Manchester United. Arsenal are away from home, well across town, at QPR, in what could have been a critical London derby, but with QPR already relegated there is no saying what team will show up for QPR. The other game with huge implications in the EPL for our US players is going to happen at Norwich. Brad Guzan and the Villains will come into Carrow Road just one point behind Norwich, and you have to think that if they take all three points that they will be safe for another season of EPL soccer, although it may be a point will suffice, with perennial survivors Wigan five points off safety. It’s the final week of the regular season in the Championship. Bolton seem to be the US players best bet for a playoff spot. They currently sit in sixth and the final playoff position (on goal difference) and will want and need all three points from their home game against Blackpool if they are to be sure of holding that spot. We will all be looking to see if Stu Holden makes the gameday team, and maybe even Tim Ream. The two teams who can catch Bolton, Nottingham Forest and Leicester City with Zak Whitbread play each other, setting up sprint to the finish (oops! cliche) that should provide some excitement. The good news from the other end of the table is that we have no US players teams in relegation difficulties. In League One, Euan Holden’s Bury and Mike Grella’s Scunthorpe will be playing in League Two next season.
In Germany, Schalke and Jermaine Jones 1-0 away win at M’gladbach on Friday, gave them a six point cushion, with three weeks left, over Frankfurt. Schalke sit in fourth place and the final UCL spot (UCL Qualifiers) four points behind Leverkusen, who have a game in hand. At the bottom of Bundesliga, Hoffenheim still hold out a slim hope of avoiding the drop. They are three points behind Augsburg and Dusseldorf (tied at 30 points). Tight is not the word this weekend. Hoffenheim are away to Bremen who are not doing so well themselves this season, while Augsburg are on the road to Europa League hopeful’s Freiburg and Dusseldorf find themselves in a similar situation at Frankfurt, who also have Europa League dreams. So if Hoffenheim’s leaky defense can keep the game close, Hoffenheim could create a three-way tie for the trip to 2. Bundesliga next season. Lets throw all our mental support behind Fabian, Danny and team and hope for all three points on Saturday.
Just four games left in Italy’s Serie A. Roma have the final Europa spot going into their away game with Serie A’s other current Europa representative Fiorentina. At such a critical time you could not get much more tense a situation. Fiorentina are just one point out of the UCL spot, and will not want to give Roma and Michael Bradley any opportunity for even one point. Game on for Totti, Bradley and co.
On Sunday in Austria, Rapid and Terence Boyd will have to be on their game as they visit Sturm Graz. Rapid who looked comfortably on the way to a European spot next season have lost their mojo and they are in very real danger of not qualifying. Rapid have five games left to right the ship, starting this week with Sturm Graz who with a win, could push Rapid out of Europe, yes that dire folks.
On Friday, Anderlecht were handed a lifeline as Zulte-Waregem lost to Genk (4-0). All season long Anderlecht and Sasha Kljestan have been odd-on favorites to lead Belgium’s representation in next seasons UCL. But, Well, That Wacky Belgium Playoff system, has them currently in a Europa League spot with four games left. With only one win in their last five outings the giants of Belgium need to dig deep, and find form.
In Denmark, we have the opportunity of multiple US player teams qualifying for European play. Thomas Delaney and Kobenhagn and Conor O’Brien and Nordsjaelland sit in UCL spots, and Charlie Davies and Randers in a Europa League place. There are four games left in the season and really all these teams need to do is maintain their form and point leads.
With two games left, AZ and Jozy Altidore, realistically, are out of contention for any European soccer next season, still Jozy has an opportunity to pad his goal tally, and that alone is worth watching. In Portugal, Estoril and Tony Taylor have three games left (they next play Monday) and have an excellent chance of grabbing a Europa League place for Portugal. In Turkey, Maurice Edu and Bursaspor will visit already relegated Orduspor, three games left and Europa League spot on the line, three points on Saturday will probably wrap that up nicely.
There are lots more games, lots more drama out there this weekend. The senior leagues seem to be where all eyes will be, but here at socceroverthere our eyes follow all US players all over the world. So hold on to your hat’s, the weekend is just starting. Join me as we follow all the games that involve US players this weekend, and as usual your participation is encouraged. Finally how many cliches did I use today.