(Disclaimer): Opinions expressed are my own
There’s a lot of soccer out there. Here’s an appetizer of some of the soccer you may hear about or catch on TV this weekend…
Four Point Difference, Five Games Left
Chelsea maintains a four-point edge on Tottenham in the English Premier League as both teams have five games left. They both face formidable opponents this Sunday as Chelsea visits Goodison Park to play at Everton at 8 am central time, while Tottenham hosts Arsenal in the North London derby. Everything’s to play for in regard to all of those teams, as Everton and Arsenal both hope to at least lock up a Europa League berth, with the latter club still having a shot at next year’s Champions League.
Promotion/Relegation Fights Heat Up
On the other end of the English Premier League, Swansea City, Middlesbrough, and Sunderland are all in the danger zone, while Hull City isn’t out of the woods yet. In England’s second-tier, Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United both clinched promotion, while the promotion-playoff fight heats up for the next couple of teams in the standings. Every team in the second tier has four games remaining until then, as some of those playoff contenders jockey for seeding position, while others are scraping just to make the playoffs. As B&H and Newcastle have sealed the top two spots (likely in that order), teams three through six will play in a four-team playoff to determine the third team to get promoted to the Premier League. The playoff consists of two semifinals of two-games and a one-match final.
U.S.-international Tim Ream described fighting for a playoff-spot this season, as he plays for the currently sixth-place Fulham. You can click here to read all about it.
McCarty Takes on His Former Team
Speaking of U.S.-internationals, Dax McCarty will play against his former club, the New York Red Bulls, on Saturday in Major League Soccer. This will be McCarty’s first official match at Red Bull Arena since the second-leg of the Eastern Conference semis in the MLS Playoffs last November. The Chicago Fire picked up McCarty in a shocking January trade, one in which the player publicly criticized his coach for the handling of his trade. But Fire faithful are happy to see that Dax is not only enjoying himself on the field with their team, but also providing a valuable contribution to a midfield that also includes Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Fire were undefeated with two wins and a draw until a 3-1 loss at Toronto in their fourth game of the season last Friday. The Red Bulls rebounded from two losses to start the season with two consecutive wins. Chicago sits in 5th-place in the Eastern Conference while the Red Bulls sit in third, as we’re still early in the MLS season.
Liga MX Clausura Playoff Push
Two games remain in the Mexican Clausura regular season with five playoff berths still up for grabs. Among the bubble teams is Pachuca, winners of the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday despite being 8th-place in the Clausura. They host Cruz Azul tomorrow night, and while the visitors are in 14th-place, they are just three points behind Pachuca. That’s how tight the standings are in Mexico. The top eight teams qualify for the domestic playoffs, known as liguilla (which is Spanish for “little league”).
From fourth through eleventh in the standings, Guadalajara host 10th-place León Saturday at 7pm, Santos Laguna is at Chiapas Saturday at 5, América hosts 7th-place Atlas Saturday at 9, and Tigres hosts 1st-place Tijuana Saturday at 7. Puebla is the only team already eliminated from playoff contention. Morelia is currently in the relegation zone, as Liga MX uses a separate calculation to determine the one team that gets relegated to Mexico’s second-tier.