Barclays Premier League Preview: Week 36

EPLlogoWe’re getting down to crunch time in the EPL.

Live on NBC at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, relegation strugglers Norwich City will seek to take advantage of the turmoil at Manchester United this week and give interim manager Ryan Giggs some food for thought in the wake of the sacking of David Moyes. Good luck with that Canaries (and I’m a City fan).

League-leading Liverpool will seek to knock Jose Mourinho’s third-place Chelsea out of the title hunt in the game of the weekend at 6 a.m. Sunday on NBCSN.

Also, at noon Monday on NBCSN fourth-place Arsenal hosts Newcastle United.

Your complete guide to all the games this weekend is here.

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Three more signs today that U.S. interest in soccer continues to grow: MLS expansion, Spanish football and EPL

For every news story like this one that indicate Americans still do not give a damn about soccer, there are other heartening signs that seem to contradict that.

Here are three today:

  • Land online here at 2 p.m. to find out what Landon Donovan and Thierry Henry are talking about in the above video and share in the open secret that MLS will formally announce an expansion in Atlanta.
  • Of course, some of you may be busy then. Look who is televising live at 12:30 p.m. the Spanish cup final between Barcelona and Real Madrid: ESPN.
  • Finally, NBC today unveiled what it described as the “most extensive and comprehensive championship Sunday (English Premier League) programming plans ever in the U.S.” with 10 games on 10 different channels as the season concludes May 11. Notwithstanding the fact that if memory serves Fox did almost exactly the same thing when it held rights to the EPL, that sounds like a fun day   When was the last time you saw a soccer game on cable channels like SyFy and Oxygen anyway? To find out what games are on what NBC channels for any weekend, click here.
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Week 33 English Premier League Preview: Arsenal play Everton Sunday on NBCSN in battle of top 5 teams

EPLlogoRecommended viewing: 7 a.m. Saturday Newcastle United-Manchester United; 9:30 a.m. Saturday NBC Chelsea-Stoke City; 5:30 a.m. Sunday NBCSN Everton-Arsenal.

Bonus: the latter game Saturday is the lead-in for the Pacific Northwest derby at noon on NBCSN between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders.

A complete guide to every weekend game in the Barclays Premier League is here.

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Club Tijuana — Southern California’s team — in CONCACAF Champions League action tonight

xoloslogoSo that’s a bit of an overstatement.

But with all the MLS clubs eliminated from the tournament, a Liga MX team with a raft of Americans on their roster who are watched regularly by thousands of U.S.-based fans who cross the border are the closest thing we’ve got to a local club still in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Club Tijuana plays Cruz Azul at 7 o’clock tonight on Fox Sports 2, FoxSoccer2go.com and on Univision Deportes (Fox Soccer Plus shows the game on delay at 9 p.m..).

Alajuelense-Toluca is on Galavision at 5 p.m., BTW.

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English Premier League setting viewing records on NBCSN

EPLlogoLast Sunday’s Manchester-United clash was the fifth most-watched EPL game ever on cable, according to NBCSN.

The sports network announced that an average of 779,000 viewers watched Liverpool dismantle once-mighty United 3-0.

NBCSN has had four of the top five most-watched EPL games in cable history in the two years since it began broadcasting.

The game was part of a doubleheader with the north London Arsenal-Spurs derby and an average of 725,000 viewers watched both games, making it the top-viewed cable doubleheader in EPL history.

To put all these figures in perspective, consider that the 37 MLS games on NBCSN in 2013 averaged a puny 112,000 viewers, according to Wikipedia.

And, just to get you ready early for the upcoming slate of games this coming weekend in the EPL, which includes a match between first-place Chelsea and third-place-Arsenal Saturday, check out the comprehensive, stat-packed preview to all the games here.

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ESPN to Air First World Cup Commercial during Rose Bowl

With 162 days to go until the World Cup in Brazil, ESPN will debut a 60-second clip, edited down from the 90-second version above, Wednesday during the 100th Rose Bowl game.
Wondering about the origin of some of the clips you see in the video?
Here’s a rundown, according to an ESPN press release issued today:

  • Pele and his triumphant celebration in 1970
  • Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and Dutch captain Johan Cruyff exchanging flags moments before the 1974 Final
  • Diego Maradona and his brilliant performance for Argentina in 1986
  • Zinedine Zidane, whose epic performance for France led the host country to win the Cup in 1998
  • Andres Iniesta, whose beautiful strike sealed Spain’s first World Cup title in 2010
  • Cameroonian striker Roger Milla’s famous dance in 1990
  • Dutch legend Johan Cruyff’s immortal turn in 1974
  • England striker Geoff Hurst’s record-setting three-goal performance in a World Cup title match in 1966
  • Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp’s memorable touch against Argentina in 1998
  • Carlos Alberto’s wonder-strike for Brazil in 1970
  • Paolo Rossi hoisting the cup for Italy in 1982
  • And Landon Donovan’s celebration after his last-gasp winner against Algeria earned the U.S. Men’s National Team a place in the single-elimination rounds in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.
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Google This: LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan nets another award

And the award is: most searched soccer player name of the year.

Yup, Landon Donovan beat out the likes of Clint Dempsey, Wayne Rooney, Tim Howard, Luis Suarez, David Villa, Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie, Eden Hazard and John Terry, who all rounded out the top 10.

Oh, and the most searched soccer team? Manchester United, but then you probably guessed that. The Galaxy didn’t make the top 10 of that list, however, with the Portland Timber’s the top-ranked MLS team at No. 4.

For more on Google’s top search lists click here.

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Thursday Kicks: Galaxy Open house, EPL Preview & more

It’s been a busy day for soccer news. Here’s what else has fallen through the cracks lately:

  • openhouse2014The Galaxy’s open house from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday is all about selling fans a season ticket, but there’s lots of cool, free stuff going on, too, including a town hall meeting with Galaxy exec Chris Klein and playmaker Landon Donovan, on field coaching clinics and stadium tours. Full details here.
  • Former AEG president Tim Leiweke, now trying to resurrect Toronto, has returned to his old stomping grounds and scooped up Galaxy Academy U-14 coach Greg Vanney as assistant general manager and Academy defender, replacing former Chivas USA coach Thomas Rongen in that post.
  • U.S. Soccer is asking fans to vote on the best male and female players for the  all-time U.S. teams. Details here.
  • There’s some big games in the EPL this weekend with the pick of them seeing league leaders Arsenal visiting Manchester City (4 a.m. NBCSN). A complete preview is here.
  • UniMás’ broadcast of MLS Cup outdrew ESPN by 14 percent, drawing 514,000 total viewers.
  • College seniors with local ties invited to the annual MLS Combine as announced today are UCLA’s Victor Chavez from Fontana and his Bruin teammate midfielder Victor Munoz, who is from Spain.
  • Former U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra is a guest at 12:30 p.m. Friday on Fox Soccer Daily (Fox Sports 1). He will break down the U.S. World Cup draw with former U.S. forwards Brian McBride and Cobi Jones.
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