Happy Fourth of July weekend! For those of you in Canada, happy Saturday and Sunday!
It’s a busy time around these parts. Gold Cup rosters are out and the tournament is a little more than a week away. The European transfer window is now open, too, adding all sorts of intrigue, both incoming and outgoing. There’s a full weekend slate in MLS, valuable points at stake. Not to mention the barbecues, family get-togethers and general summer merriment.
Two suggestions from me:
- If you can only watch one game – outside the club you support, assuming you aren’t a proud MLS-hat-wearing neutral like me – make it the opening of Lower.com Field in Columbus as the Crew settle into their gorgeous new home against the Revs on Saturday (5 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes).
- If you can afford it, pony up for ESPN+ (and if you have kids, just do the bundle because Disney+ is clutch for family-friendly entertainment). ESPN+ pays me nothing to say this. I am simply a satisfied customer. You’re here to read about the weekend, right?. Don’t you want to watch as much of it as possible, too? Every game but #CLBvNE is on MLS LIVE this weekend. There’s no better way to watch the league we all love.
Here’s your Week 11 cheat sheet.
Return of the Hard Hats (with a Jackhammer, too)
Columbus Crew vs. New England Revolution — 5 pm ET
WATCH ON: ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Three soccer-specific stadiums in one year. That’s an MLS record. We’ve had two stadium openings in one season before, but never three.
First TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, then Q2 Stadium in Austin and now Lower.com Field in Columbus, all three glorious cathedrals for the players who compete in them and the supporters who drive them on and keep the memories alive. Soccer lives a lot of places, but a club’s soul resides in the building where the communion between club and the community takes place.
In Columbus’ case, it’s also where three people – one representing club, community and supporters – will don hard hats and construction vests to jackhammer a steel plate bearing the opponent’s crest as well as bricks to commemorate every Crew goal scored in the stadium. Think Timber Joey, but a former player, supporter and member of the community. Think chainsaw, but a jackhammer. Think back to the original Crew “construction worker” crest. Think loud and fun and a little absurd in the best way.
I gotta admit, it sounds sort of funny – and subject to OSHA violations – this amateur construction site, but the story and the execution sound like the supporters, players and club are on to something. According to the Nordecke, it was the players who reached out in search of a communal (and ultimately disruptive) celebration. I don’t have any sources, but Darlington Nagbe has a couple log slices. Caleb Porter probably has one or two, too. In search of inspiration, they’re a good place to start.
Anyway, the whole three-person jackhammering squad part is cool and intimidating – fittingly, Frankie Hejduk will be the first club representative – but the best part is that for each goal a piece of the broken brick will go up with a commemorative plaque in the players’ tunnel. I’ll never forget walking the corridor at Azteca and seeing the plaques for all the teams that have played there. Imagine walking the Lower.com tunnel years from now and finding that playoff goal that sent the Crew to Cup, maybe even an MLS Cup goal that put another star on the crest.
The day is much bigger than a jackhammer, all the details are here via Massive Report, though I’m sure Crew supporters would want to hear that baby sing as much as possible.
There’s a march led by Zack Steffen – you know how much I love marches – and a pregame tifo from the purveyors of Tifosweat. We’ll get the “Wise Men” version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” twice, once before the match and once after. We’ll all wish we were there, but only 20,011 people are getting through those doors to experience it in person. The rest of us will settle for watching on ESPN.
Enjoy your day, Crew supporters. I’ll be watching, tickled for you, from Kansas City.
One reason to watch every MLS LIVE on ESPN+ game
D.C. United vs. Toronto FC — Sat., 5:30 pm ET
CF Montréal vs. Inter Miami — Sat., 7:30 pm ET
Gotta beat the bad teams if you want to be a playoff team. Right now, Inter Miami are a bad team, and every game right now is a test to see if it will get worse, stabilize or get better. Here’s to seeing Mason Toye in the Montréal XI!
Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls — Sat., 7:30 pm ET
How long can we watch Daryl Dike in MLS? Now’s not the time to miss a game. With the Gold Cup coming, it might be Saturday and Wednesday in Chicago and that’s it. That’s a good reason to tune in.
Chicago Fire vs. Atlanta United — Sat., 8 pm ET
Meanwhile, the Fire’s alarm bells are ringing. One win in 10 games. Negative 10 goal differential, worst in the league. The season is slipping away, maybe already has. Desperation time.
Minnesota United vs. San Jose Earthquakes — Sat., 8 pm ET
Thanks to Adrien Hunou’s goals and a backline that settled down, the Loons are trending up. The Quakes are trending down. Given it’s San Jose, that inevitably means something crazy is about to happen. Someone is getting blown out, but who?
Nashville SC vs. Philadelphia — Sat., 8 pm ET
Are Nashville a borderline playoff team or shoo-in capable of hosting a playoff game? This game will help answer that question.
Houston Dynamo vs. FC Cincinnati — Sat., 8:30 pm ET
Let’s all say it together: FC Cincinnati are 90 minutes away from three straight wins!
Real Salt Lake vs. LAFC — Sat., 10 pm ET
Aside from the obvious – the likelihood that Carlos Vela starts – I’m curious to see Freddy Juarez’s XI and how he fits Rubio Rubin, Bobby Wood and Damir Kreilach into the same team. Hard to make a case any should sit.
FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — Sun., 7:30 pm ET
Ricardo Pepi. This might be his “prepare to launch” moment. It seems he’s won the No. 9 job, and he just bagged two goals in a big win against the Revs. ‘Caps at home could be another opportunity to shine (and get on the scoresheet).
Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders — Sun., 9 pm ET
The Sounders are sputtering a bit, but still Shield leaders. The Rapids are the great unknown among the Western Conference top four. Are they for real? Are they still too young, maybe a little too soft? Seattle have a way of exposing inexperience, but perhaps Colorado are past that in their lifecycle as a team.
LA Galaxy vs. Sporting KC — Sun., 10:30 pm ET