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What to watch this weekend

NWSL on CBS twice. Euros on ABC and Univision. Copa America on FOX and UniMas. UniMas also has two MLS games. Soccer on free-to-air TV has never been more common.

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Soccer: NWSL Challenge Cup-NY/NJ Gotham FC at Portland Thorns FC Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Before Times, there was a time when soccer was something you watched on VHS tapes that your friends sent you via mail from their duty stations in Germany, Italy, or England. Maybe during the Olympics you’d find a single TV at a bar with a game, or there were a handful of places that would spend hundreds of dollars to get access via satellite dishes the size of automobiles.

Those times are gone. Soccer has taken over the airwaves in the summer of 2021. The Mexican National Team gets nearly 4 million viewers. The USMNT against not-Mexico hits around a million. The USWNT in major tournaments (like the Olympics in a couple weeks) will get many millions. The Euros are averaging about a mill. The United States is a soccer nation — it’s just distributed between six popular leagues (Liga MX, EPL, MLS, La Liga, NWSL), three popular national teams (MexMNT, USWNT, USMNT), and a summer with Euro 2020, Copa America, the Gold Cup, and the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Tacoma Defiance are off this weekend. Seattle Sounders are at LA Galaxy on JOEtv/Amazon Prime (Sat. at 6 PM PT). OL Reign are at North Carolina Courage on CBS (the big CBS) on Saturday at 1 PM PT.

NWSL games to watch

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Portland Thorns vs NWSL Kansas City - Sunday at 1 PM PT on CBS

The NWSL went from being on an odd streaming service that Verizon killed off during the season to being on one of the big three broadcast networks twice in a weekend, all in the space of a couple of years. This game should be a blowout. KC’s record is about as bland as their name and Portland fans will be able to turn out in numbers they haven’t had the opportunity to do in almost two years. It’s not the best game of the weekend, but what else are you going to do when it hits 80 degrees?

  • The Twitch game of the week is Washington Spirit at Chicago Red Stars on Saturday night at 5 PM PT. It should be fine.
  • The one to watch though is when Paramount+ hosts Orlando Pride vs Gotham FC on Sunday afternoon at 3 PM PT. Pride are overperforming advanced metrics, but going on an undefeated run over five matches is impressive regardless. Gotham is good enough to give them a challenge.

MLS games to watch

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Austin FC vs San Jose Earthquakes - Saturday at 6 PM PT on UniMas/TUDN/Twitter

Austin finally get a home game. A completely average road team, Josh Wolff’s team will get to try to establish an identity against San Jose’s chaos-ball. Every new soccer stadium that opens is a reminder of how far American soccer has come. Every stadium that’s basically just 20k large is a reminder of a lack of ambition in ownership.

LAFC vs Houston Dynamo - Saturday at 8 PM PT on UniMas/TUDN/Twitter

Neither of these teams are good. LAFC has the excuse of injuries to significant players, while the Dynamo are always somewhere between bad and mediocre. Sounders fans should root for a draw, although an LAFC loss would also be funny.

Atlanta United vs Philadelphia Union - Sunday at 11 AM PT on ESPN

At some point over the last few seasons Jim Curtin started to win games. That earned him a contract extension and gave the Union recognition as one of the powers of the East. Everyone expected the Five Stripes to also be an East power, but they refuse to take that mantel so far in 2021.

#MLSAfterDark vibes when Real Salt Lake host Vancouver Whitecaps - Friday at 7 PM PT

Why this one for the oddness? Vancouver’s spent this season at Rio Tinto as the home team, where they are 2-1-0, which is better than Rio Tinto’s actual home team. RSL is just 1-1-2 at home. Monarchs are also at home Friday night, something Seattle/Tacoma will deal with next week. 2021 remains weird.

USL games to watch

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We’re going with an East and a West this week.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds - Saturday at 4:30 PM PT on ESPN+

A 1st vs 3rd Atlantic Division match promises solid soccer. Over in St. Pete the Rowdies’ stadium is a beautiful host for soccer and is the home of the team that might just be the best in the Championship.

San Diego Loyal vs Phoenix Rising - Saturday at 7:30 PM PT on ESPN+

Landon Donovan’s team stopped sucking, and now they get to host fans in essentially full capacity. Rising are well clear of the rest of the Division, while Loyal have a -5 goal differential even after going four straight without a loss. Defiance fans will want Phoenix to romp.

  • Other games in the Pacific are Oakland Roots vs Sacramento Republic (Saturday at 5:30 PM PT) and Las Vegas Lights vs Orange County SC (Saturday at 7:30 PM PT). Tacomans should root for draws in these.

There’s also Euros 2020 you can start watching at 6 AM PT Saturday (ESPN and ABC for English, and UniMas, TUDN, Prende for Spanish) or Copa America to fill your Sunday afternoon (FOX, FS1 for English and UniMas, TUDN, Prende for Spanish).

This is your AmSocc open thread for the weekend of Friday, June 18 through Sunday, June 20. Watch with us because what else are you going to do this weekend?

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