Kickoff from Gillette Stadium outside Boston is set for 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Saturday is the first of two legs in the aggregate goals series
The Revolution is playing its firsts playoff match since 2009
Sporting Kansas City was the league’s best road team this year, an 8-5-4 record, and also the best defensive team
Young scoring sensation Diego Fagundez, just 18, led the Revolution with 13 goals this year
In Saturday’s Eastern Conference semifinal opener, we have a textbook instance of a playoff newbie in terms of the current roster and team makeup (New England) against an old hand at this MLS playoff business.
New England, a team with so much MLS playoff success in the previous decade, is back into the post-season swing for the first time since 2009.
Meanwhile, not only has Sporting Kansas City made the playoffs for the third consecutive season, but Peter Vermes’ team delivered relatively strong post-season accounts the last two years. Sporting trounced Colorado in the 2011 conference semifinal before falling to Houston in a tight conference final.
And came the downfall from Houston again in 2012, although Vermes’ team was strong in the return leg in the Midwest, dominating the Dynamo at Sporting Park (out-shooting the visitors 20-3) but falling a goal short on aggregate.
So a big edge in playoff experience goes to the visitors Saturday, a team that certainly doesn’t mind playing on the road. Sporting KC’s 28 points earned away from home this year (an 8-5-3 record) was best in MLS by some distance.
Kansas City is also the league’s top defensive team, with just 30 goals allowed.
Plus, Sporting KC went undefeated in Group Stage of Champions League – in fact, only allowing two goals in four matches while advancing to next year’s quarterfinals – while adding even more “big-game” largesse to this year’s checklist of achievement. Mostly though, it’s that feeling of being close to accomplishing something special the last two years, taking hardy sides into the playoffs but coming up short, that is providing all the drive to this year’s post-season bid.
“We’ve got a good, core group of guys that have been through this the last three years,” Vermes said this week. “That gives us, not comparing us to anyone else in the league, that just gives us a much better foundation as we move through the playoffs.”
The “foundation” includes what is probably the top back five in the playoffs (back four plus goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, that is). Center back Matt Besler, a U.S. starter, provides the stabilizing arm alongside the more volatile side the duo, Frenchman Aurélien Collin. In fact, we talk so much about those two that we probably don’t spend enough time commenting on right back Chance Myers and left back Seth Sinovic, both of whom are tough one-on-one defenders who can contribute a little punch to the attack, too.
Sporting KC’s offense mostly goes through U.S. international Graham Zusi (pictured above), whose assist total was down this year (from 15 to 8), but who did drop a career-best in goals, with six. Zusi’s recent return from a minor fall injury setback was among the reasons Sporting Kansas City finished on a four-game undefeated streak. Vermes’ team also won six of its last eight matches – and that was all after Kei Kamara left for England in a summer transfer.
New England has a little momentum of its own, however. Jay Heaps’ team from outside Boston looked a bit dead in the Back Bay about a month ago, staring at a tough schedule of road games, in need of a bunch of points to punch its way into the post-season. Well, punch they did, gathering up huge road wins at Montreal and Columbus, in addition to a draw at Supporters Shield winners New York, all in the month of October.
Heaps’ team clinched its playoff spot just last weekend, in fact, with that 1-0 win at Crew Stadium.
One of the great things about having New England back in the playoffs is another chance to see Diego Fagundez, the Revs’ 18-year-old scoring sensation. Fagundez, finished tied for fifth in league scoring – and imagine what he could have done had he been the Revs’ PK taker, as league scoring leaders so frequently are.
He usually lines up wide (left lately) in the Revs’ 4-1-4-1 arrangement.
At the other end of the experience spectrum is goalkeeper Matt Reis, who lost his place this year – a difficult year that included unfortunate family involvement in the Boston Marathon bombings. Reis got things together and will be big part of this playoff push. So will center back Jose Goncalves, one of the real finds of the Major League’s Soccer’s off-season.
Another intriguing figure in a team full of them is Juan Agudelo, a young U.S. international (a bit farther back in the pool) who shook off some late-season injury struggles to make the Revs’ last four starts. In fact, his first goal since Aug. 25 was the playoff clincher last weekend against Columbus. Agudelo has already signed to play for Stoke City in January.
American soccer has, had, and will have a wealth of brutal debates in its past, present, and future, mostly because the United States’ troubled history with the game and — if we’re honest — the exceptionalism that comes with having the world’s best leagues in basketball, baseball, American football, and hockey amongst others.
United States Soccer, however, has largely had its hands full when it comes to collecting interest in the U.S. game outside of the men’s and women’s national teams as well as clubs in their local markets (Regional markets if lucky).
Those thoughts are natural when it comes to Wrexham, which boasts its Hollywood owners and a slick and heartfelt reality show “Welcome To Wrexham,” but the attention that comes with all of that is also a symptom of a team built for a promotion that proved its quality again Sunday.
And it did it against a team just as likely for a promotion that boasts plenty of players who were in the Premier League when it was at its peak: Oliver Norwood, Oli McBurnie, John Egan, Chris Basham. Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom then called upon Billy Sharp and Max Lowe to boot.
But Wrexham is a very good team, one trying to hold off Notts County for promotion to the Football League. Its owners have paid well for experienced players and this is a team delivering on an underdog level with legit players (Elliott Lee, Ollie Palmer, and Paul Mullin are all plenty fit for the next level).
The acrimony amongst some in the Twittersphere toward Wrexham or those who’ve bought into their rise or rejuvenation is somewhat understandable. Major League Soccer’s rise has been incredible and rapid, but it cannot manufacture 160-year-old clubs. While the U.S. was an early adopter and promoter of girls and women’s soccer, it had a stop-start relationship with the men’s game.
When it’s thrived, like in the first NASL and the second stage of MLS, it’s been because of the spotlight that came with the introductions of Pele and Franz Beckenbauer, and later David Beckham, Thierry Henry, David Villa, and Robbie Keane. And while MLS has reached a new level with younger South American imports and MLS academy stars, pick one who pushed the league back onto the front page like Zlatan Ibrahimovic. We’ll wait.
So it stands to reason that celebrities have brought Wrexham a new level of interest around the world. And the fact that these celebrities have invested to put a good team in front of cameras gives it legs. Soccer here has earned attention on its merit, and it’s fair to wish that Sacramento Republic and Chattanooga FC could get the celebrity bumps delivered to LAFC and Austin FC. But being angry with attention going to a club deeeeep into its second century? That’s not becoming.
Can Wrexham earn promotion? Yep. If so, is the sky the limit? Maybe not the sky, but certainly that big, nine-letter word in the hills of Los Angeles isn’t too high. And the bug caught by Reynolds and apparent in his eyes as he celebrated Wrexham goals is going to be caught by so many others as the 2026 World Cup heads for our shores. Might as well embrace it, because it’s a fast-forward button for the sport here whether your club’s barely-known or a 50-year-old Cascadian mainstay.
We might not like how big of a role celebrity plays in our sports, but it’s very real.
Manchester City vs Arsenal does little to change Premier League title opinions
It was cagey, tense, and frankly pretty fun, but Man City’s 1-0 win over Arsenal didn’t do much to either make the upstarts change their beliefs they can win the Premier League or the defending champs believe any less in a three peat.
Man City earned its one-goal win and it was a deserved spot in the next round, but there were plenty of moments that showed Arsenal getting one or six of six points off City to keep an advantage in the title race is very realistic.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta should feel content with Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland drawing starts in this match and even better that a less-than-ideal defensive performance out of everyone not named Gabriel Magalhaes or Matt Turner was enough to keep the duo quiet.
City had strong performances from so many others including Jack Grealish, Nathan Ake, Rodri, and Ilkay Gundogan, but look at the numbers below. This was more than a feeling-out period ahead of Feb. 15 but had all those vibes.
Arsenal can love that it limited Man City to an xG lower than it produced in any Premier League match this season. In fact, City’s only produced less than 1.00 xG in the PL on a few occasions.
Bring on February 15.
Kaoru Mitoma has that special something (that Liverpool has lost)
It’s almost improbably clever, the way Kaoru Mitoma juggled around Liverpool’s defense to deal the Reds a 2-1 loss and give Brighton a spot in the next round.
And it screams from the screen that Liverpool was on the receiving end of a moment like this… again, but first give credit to Brighton for signing Mitoma and hiring a replacement for Graham Potter ready to properly deploy the Japanese star.
Roberto De Zerbi is getting a lot out of the Seagulls and Mitoma is the brightest bulb in the pack at the moment. Mitoma, 25, can’t stop producing at the moment and is delivering goals at a better rate for Brighton this season than he did last year for Royal Union Saint Gilloise.
His beautiful goal Sunday won it for the Seagulls and gives him four goals and an assist in his last six matches dating back to a Dec. 31 encounter with Arsenal in the Premier League.
While Brighton can point to Mitoma as a talisman that might drive its rise into Europe, Liverpool is wondering how it can start to conjure consistent performances like that out of someone other than Mohamed Salah.
The 30-year-old Egyptian does have 17 goals and seven assists this season. He hasn’t scored in four-straight Premier League matches but is still delivering in the cup. Harvey Elliott scored Sunday and Liverpool needs him, Cody Gakpo, or another attacker to help Salah drive the bus.
Manchester United, Tottenham confirm they care to be tournament threats…
Any given weekend, Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur can look incredible or poor in the Premier League. While United is finding consistency under Erik ten Hag and Spurs are better than any realize under Antonio Conte, neither is at or near its recent top level.
That said, both showed this weekend that when given the opportunity to focus on a single game against an inferior opponent, there’s very little hope for the latter. Man Utd pounded Reading and Tottenham was way too much for Preston. And the deeper both go, there’s little reason to doubt they could beat anyone left in the field… and Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool have already left the competition.
…While Leeds, Southampton have potential to play spoiler
That last line cues up the reason that Leeds and Saints can both be good tournament teams, something that Southampton has shown in the League Cup as well.
Lower-half sides in the Premier League, managers Jesse Marsch and Nathan Jones can galvanize their teams not just around PL safety but also an extended Cup. Yes, both will need favorable draws to make these ideas become reality but have the X-factors — Rodrigo, Wilfried Gnonto, and Jack Harrison for Leeds, and James Ward-Prowse, Mislav Orsic, and Romain Perraiud for Saints — to deliver something extra special.
Remember: you can watch all 380 Premier League games across NBC, USA Network, NBCSports.com and Peacock. We’ve got you covered.
Will Manchester City win yet another Premier League title? Can Chelsea and Liverpool push them all the way? How will Manchester United’s new-look side fare? What about Tottenham and Arsenal? How will the new boys get on? Who will be the surprise package?
Those questions will be answered from August 2022 to May 2023, with the full list of Premier League fixtures.
While below are the answers to all of the questions you have around the Premier League fixtures and everything else you need to know for the upcoming season, with full details on the Premier League TV schedule across the NBC family of channels and more.
The Premier League fixtures for the 2022-23 season were announced on Thursday June 16, 2022 at 4am ET. Below is the full schedule, as you can watch all 380 games across our NBC platforms.
The Premier League fixture computer decides who plays who and when, as teams located close to one another are usually playing at home on opposite weekends to help with policing, crowd control and transport congestion in those areas.
When will the Premier League take a break for the 2022 World Cup?
When will the 2022-23 Premier League season finish?
The final day of the season will be on Sunday, May 28, 2023.
Which teams will compete in the 2022-23 Premier League?
These are the 20 teams which will compete in the Premier League for the upcoming season:
Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Brentford, Brighton and Hove Albion, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers
7:30am: Everton v Arsenal
Aston Villa v Leicester
Brentford v Southampton
Brighton v AFC Bournemouth
Man Utd v Crystal Palace
Wolves v Liverpool
12:30pm: Newcastle v West Ham
Sunday 5 February
9am: Nottingham Forest v Leeds
11:30am: Spurs v Man City
Saturday 11 February
7:30am: West Ham v Chelsea
Arsenal v Brentford
Crystal Palace v Brighton
Fulham v Nottingham Forest
Leicester v Spurs
Southampton v Wolves
12:30pm: AFC Bournemouth v Newcastle
Sunday 12 February
9am: Leeds v Man Utd
11:30am: Man City v Aston Villa
Monday 13 February
3pm: Liverpool v Everton
Wednesday 15 February
2:30pm: Arsenal vs Manchester City (rearranged)
Saturday 18 February
7:30am: Aston Villa v Arsenal
Brentford v Crystal Palace
Brighton v Fulham
Chelsea v Southampton
Everton v Leeds
Nottingham Forest v Man City
Wolves v AFC Bournemouth
12:30pm: Newcastle v Liverpool
Sunday 19 February
9am: Man Utd v Leicester
11:30am: Spurs v West Ham
Friday 24 February
3pm: Fulham v Wolves
Saturday 25 February
7:30am: Newcastle v Brighton
Everton v Aston Villa
Leeds v Southampton
Leicester v Arsenal
West Ham v Nottingham Forest
12:30pm: AFC Bournemouth v Man City *subject to EFL Cup Final
2:45pm: Crystal Palace v Liverpool ^If Liverpool are not in EFL fifth round and if AFC Bournemouth or Man City progress to EFL Cup final, this match will move to 17:30 and remain on Sky Sports
Sunday 26 February
8:30am: Man Utd v Brentford* Due to UEFA Europa League playoff round
8:30am: Spurs v Chelsea
Saturday 4 March
Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
Brentford v Fulham
Brighton v West Ham
Chelsea v Leeds
Liverpool v Man Utd
Man City v Newcastle
Nottingham Forest v Everton
Southampton v Leicester
Wolves v Spurs
Saturday 11 March
AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool
Crystal Palace v Man City
Everton v Brentford
Fulham v Arsenal
Leeds v Brighton
Leicester v Chelsea
Man Utd v Southampton
Newcastle v Wolves
Spurs v Nottingham Forest
West Ham v Aston Villa
Saturday 18 March
Arsenal v Crystal Palace
Aston Villa v AFC Bournemouth
Brentford v Leicester
Brighton v Man Utd
Chelsea v Everton
Liverpool v Fulham
Man City v West Ham
Nottingham Forest v Newcastle
Southampton v Spurs
Wolves v Leeds
Saturday 1 April
AFC Bournemouth v Fulham
Arsenal v Leeds
Brighton v Brentford
Chelsea v Aston Villa
Crystal Palace v Leicester
Everton v Spurs
Man City v Liverpool
Newcastle v Man Utd
Nottingham Forest v Wolves
West Ham v Southampton
Saturday 8 April
Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest
Brentford v Newcastle
Fulham v West Ham
Leeds v Crystal Palace
Leicester v AFC Bournemouth
Liverpool v Arsenal
Man Utd v Everton
Southampton v Man City
Spurs v Brighton
Wolves v Chelsea
Saturday 15 April
Aston Villa v Newcastle
Chelsea v Brighton
Everton v Fulham
Leeds v Liverpool
Man City v Leicester
Nottingham Forest v Man Utd
Southampton v Crystal Palace
Spurs v AFC Bournemouth
West Ham v Arsenal
Wolves v Brentford
Saturday 22 April
AFC Bournemouth v West Ham
Arsenal v Southampton
Brentford v Aston Villa
Brighton v Man City
Crystal Palace v Everton
Fulham v Leeds
Leicester v Wolves
Liverpool v Nottingham Forest
Man Utd v Chelsea
Newcastle v Spurs
Tuesday 25 April
19:45 Everton v Newcastle
19:45 Leeds v Leicester
19:45 Nottingham Forest v Brighton
19:45 Spurs v Man Utd
19:45 West Ham v Liverpool
19:45 Wolves v Crystal Palace
20:00 Aston Villa v Fulham
Wednesday 26 April
19:45 Chelsea v Brentford
19:45 Southampton v AFC Bournemouth
20:00 Man City v Arsenal
Saturday 29 April
AFC Bournemouth v Leeds
Arsenal v Chelsea
Brentford v Nottingham Forest
Brighton v Wolves
Crystal Palace v West Ham
Fulham v Man City
Leicester v Everton
Liverpool v Spurs
Man Utd v Aston Villa
Newcastle v Southampton
Saturday 6 May
AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea
Brighton v Everton
Fulham v Leicester
Liverpool v Brentford
Man City v Leeds
Newcastle v Arsenal
Nottingham Forest v Southampton
Spurs v Crystal Palace
West Ham v Man Utd
Wolves v Aston Villa
Saturday 13 May
Arsenal v Brighton
Aston Villa v Spurs
Brentford v West Ham
Chelsea v Nottingham Forest
Crystal Palace v AFC Bournemouth
Everton v Man City
Leeds v Newcastle
Leicester v Liverpool
Man Utd v Wolves
Southampton v Fulham
Saturday 20 May
AFC Bournemouth v Man Utd
Brighton v Southampton
Fulham v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Man City v Chelsea
Newcastle v Leicester
Nottingham Forest v Arsenal
Spurs v Brentford
West Ham v Leeds
Wolves v Everton
Sunday 28 May
16:00 Arsenal v Wolves
16:00 Aston Villa v Brighton
16:00 Brentford v Man City
16:00 Chelsea v Newcastle
16:00 Crystal Palace v Nottingham Forest
16:00 Everton v AFC Bournemouth
16:00 Leeds v Spurs
16:00 Leicester v West Ham
16:00 Man Utd v Fulham
16:00 Southampton v Liverpool
Copa America last came to the U.S., in the summer of 2016 for Copa America Centenario, the 100-year celebration of the South American championship.
Back in 2016, the USMNT and Mexico were not required to qualify for the tournament, but the CONCACAF giants will not be given an automatic bid to Copa America 2024. They will also be forced to qualify as one of six CONCACAF through the 2023-24 Nations League. Previously, the other four bids from CONCACAF were awarded via various regional tournaments and and qualifying playoffs.
The CONMEBOL-CONCACAF partnership also extends to the women’s game, where the Gold Cup is being revamped.
2024 CONCACAF W[omen’s] Gold Cup will include eight CONCACAF women’s national teams and four CONMEBOL guests
For women’s national teams, CONCACAF has invited the top four CONMEBOL national teams to participate in the 2024 CONCACAF W Gold Cup. The inaugural edition of this 12-team tournament, which is a key part of CONCACAF’s new women’s national team ecosystem, will be played in the United States.
The two Concacaf teams that will participate in the 2024 Summer Olympics (United States and Jamaica or Canada) will qualify directly for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup. The remaining six Concacaf teams will be determined through the 2023 Road to Concacaf W Gold Cup.
2024 Copa America: What does it mean for USMNT?
First things first, it means playing more high-level, competitive games between World Cups. The USMNT has faced the likes of Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and other South American nations in friendlies over the years, but as things stand their only competitive fixtures come against CONCACAF competition — the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying.
The timing of the tournament is beneficial for all national teams involved as well, at the halfway point to the 2026 World Cup — also set to be hosted in the United States (and Mexico and Canada) — just as EURO 2024 is the halfway marker for European nations. The 2023 Gold Cup is still on the schedule for this summer, with the final to be played at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Only time will tell if the combined Copa America will become the new norm in the Americas, but given what we know about the profitability of international soccer, there will certainly be a “cross your fingers and hope all goes well” vibe in 2024.
Would a move to Leeds be a good fit for Weston McKennie?
Stylistically the Premier League is a great fit for Weston McKennie and Leeds are probably one of the best teams he could move to.
He loves to fly into tackles and drive forward from midfield and playing just in front of Tyler Adams and Marc Roca or to the right of them would be a perfect spot for him at Leeds.
It would give Leeds more control of games and the Yorkshire club also play to his strengths. it’s a really good fit.
McKennie has struggled to have a big impact at Juve this season as injuries have taken their toll on him over the last few years. That would perhaps be the one concern about his move to the Premier League, as McKennie seems to pick up quite a few knocks.
However, looking at his stats below from this season at Juventus, the chances he creates per game and the shots per game will improve and his accurate passing will help Leeds become less susceptible on the counter.
McKennie is a player who rattles into tackles, feeds off the energy of his fans and his mentality is perfect for the aggressive side Jesse Marsch has created at Leeds.
The Texas born midfielder has always wanted to play in the Premier League and he’s got his wish at a club where he will play week in, week out and one which suits his style of play perfectly.