This weekend in soccer is set aside for international games – national teams playing each other in various settings and competitions. And for U.S. Soccer, there's a lot on the line on two different fronts. Jürgen Klinsmann's national team faces back-to-back World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala this Friday, March 25, and Tuesday, March 29, while the U-23 squad faces a home-and-away playoff series with Colombia for a spot in the 2016 Olympics on those same dates. For a senior team wanting to re-establish their dominance in this region, anything less than a win and a draw will sow doubts; and for the U.S. youth program, it would be a big blow not to be represented in Brazil this summer. But with both teams in action simultaneously, the player pool is stretched; one notable call-back, after missing the November qualifiers, is Clint Dempsey. The games on Friday are on the road in Guatemala City (9pm, BeIN Sports) and Barranquilla (7pm, FS2), and the games on Tuesday comprise an ESPN2 doubleheader: 6pm for the senior team, 8:30pm for the U-23s, playing Colombia in Frisco, Texas. Tickets for that one are still available.
Elsewhere, there's World Cup qualifying in South America and Asia – which has a couple of interesting political storylines in Palestine hoping to advance to the third round with an upset at United Arab Emirates, and Hong Kong trying to move on at the expense of mainland rivals China – plus African Cup of Nations qualifying, and a slew of friendlies in Europe, which will take on a nervous air after Monday's bombing in Brussels.
Meanwhile, pretty much all the major leagues in the world take the week off, while their players jet around the world. Surprise English Premier League leaders Leicester City, for example, has no less than 16 players called up to play for their national teams, and manager Claudio Ranieri can only hope no one gets injured while he waits for the EPL season to resume after the two-week break. As of now, Leicester holds a five-point lead over Tottenham Spurs, with seven games to play. If the small-town upstarts can hold off all the giants of English soccer and win this title, it'll be one of the biggest surprises in European sport since Agincourt.
Just over a week until San Antonio FC kicks off their inaugural season in Seattle April 3, and at home April 9. See more info at www.uslsanantonio.com.