The 2023-24 UEFA Champions League moved to the second qualifying round first-legs this week, and with that comes USMNT player involvement. Specifically, Mark McKenzie’s KRC Genk, who opened the round with a 1-1 draw at Swiss Super League club Servette. Tolu Arokodare put Genk up in the 21st and Servette equalized in the 77th minute. That series concludes on August 2 at Genk’s Cegeka Arena. The winner plays Rangers in the third round League Path.
Also waiting in the third qualifying round League Path is one club with a USMNT player, Ricardo Pepi’s PSV, who already know their opponent. PSV hosts Sturm Graz in the opening leg on August 9, five days after playing Feyenoord for the Johan Cruyff Shield that opens the Dutch season. The second-leg of the PSV vs Sturm Graz series is on August 16.
Sam Vines’s Royal Antwerp is one of two teams already in the Champions League playoff round, waiting on the qualifying results and the draw set for August 7.
Moving to the group stage and a caveat. Some of these players are linked with loan moves and transfers that could change the scope of USMNT involvement. With that taken care of, the draw for the group stage is scheduled for August 31 with the games beginning on September 19.
We’ll start with the Bundesliga representatives with USMNT players: Jordan Pefok and Brenden Aaronson’s Union Berlin, Gio Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund, and Malik Tillman’s Bayern Munich. La Liga has Sergino Dest’s Barcelona. From the Premier League, it’s Matt Turner and Auston Trusty’s Arsenal, and Zack Steffen’s Manchester City. Serie A has Christian Pulisic’s AC Milan.
Moving to the Europa League, its qualifying is dependent on teams dropping from Champions League qualifying. Bryan Reynolds’s AS Roma is already in the group stage, with the draw on September 1 and the games beginning on September 21.
There is plenty of USMNT player involvement in the Europa Conference League, starting with the second qualifying round Main Path with the first-legs set for Wednesday and Thursday. On Thursday, Kenny Saief’s Neftchi is at Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina club Zeljeznicar with that series concluding on August 3. The winner plays the winner of the Besiktas vs Tirana qualifier in the third round Main Path.
Owen Otasowie’s Club Brugge hosts Danish Superliga club AGF on Thursday, with the away leg on August 3. That winner advances to play the winner of KA vs Dundalk Sam Rogers’s Rosenborg is at NIFL Premiership club Crusaders with that series finishing on August 3. The winner advances to play Hearts in the third qualifying round.
Also already in the third qualifying round is Djordje Mihailovic’s AZ, waiting on the winner of Montenegro First League club Sutjeska Niksic vs the Andorran Primera Division’s FC Santa Coloma in the Main Path. All third round qualifying games are set for August 10 and 17.
Waiting on the August 7 draw for the Main Path play-off round are Paxten Aaronson and Timmy Chandler’s Eintracht Weston McKennie and Tim Weah’s Juventus. Those games are set for August 24 and 31. The group stage draw is on September 1, with the games beginning on September 21.
THURSDAY’S SOCCER TV
Women’s World Cup on FS1: Portugal vs Viet Nam at 3:30am, Australia vs Nigeria at 6am, and Argentina vs South Africa at 8pm. Leagues Cup on FS1: Club America vs St Louis City at 10pm. Peru’s Primera Division on GolTV: Universitario vs Carlos Manucci at 10pm. ESPN2 has the San Diego Loyal vs Borussia Dortmund friendly at 10:30pm ET.
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