2020 has been the year for adaptability and new traditions. Certainly your holiday traditions don’t look exactly as they did in years past however we hope you have had a safe, happy and healthy Holiday Season so far. One tradition every soccer fan should add to their holidays is Boxing Day.
If you ask your English soccer friends they might agree that the Holidays have just begun as today December 26 is Boxing Day. I’m not going to pretend to know the entire history of boxing day but if you are interested the BBC has a really interesting article that I am not even going to try to summarize. But the long and the short of it is the English know how to celebrate the best part of life as we know it by giving us two whole weeks of nonstop soccer where most EPL teams are playing two matches in short order. You can even catch some Championship and League one games if you are super ambitious. As you would expect, the Scottish Premier League and Irish Premier League also have boxing day games scheduled and these games are typically highly anticipated derbies.
If you want to check out the US TV Schedule of fixtures for Boxing Day through New Year’s Day (and beyond). You can go to World Soccer Talk, which also has some great soccer articles and commentary.
Because this is a local blog for parents with aspiring American players I am going to give you the games to watch over the next two days with young American players in the EPL.
Boxing Day Fixtures to Watch
Leicester City vs Manchester United
Saturday 12/26/2020 7:30 AM
Watch on NBCSN, fubo TV, Sling Blue and Hulu+TV Live
Not that I need to give you a reason to watch this game; Leicester is sitting at #2 in the table with Man United right behind them at #3.
Competitively this is going to be the match to watch this weekend but I was looking for some domestic talent in their organizations and came across U17 Zach Booth of Real Salt Lake City’s Academy. Zach signed to Leicester City in September and played in U18 and U23 games in their development academy right away. We won’t be seeing him play in tomorrow’s battle for #2 in the table but we will see more of him and his brother Taylor (Bayern Munich), if you remember he was coined an American Teen Prodigy last year by Bundesliga online and both Booth boys have been called up to USMNT Camp.
Fulham vs Southampton FC
Saturday 12/26/2020 10:00AM
Watch on Peacock Premium
Unfortunately this game won’t be watched by many of us because it is only being carried on Peacock Premium but it should prove to be a good one. Southampton FC has been dropping down the table and Fulham has been struggling to stay out of the relegation zone. Both teams need a win.
Locally Soccer Field Academy is an International Academy Partner for Southampton FC with close ties to Southampton local players and English coaches are continuously training back and forth between Columbus and Southampton which provides a rich fan base and opportunities for local players.
Fulham on the other hand has two first team Americans, Tim Ream of St. Louis Scott Gallagher and Antonee Robinson of Everton’s Youth Academy are both familiar faces on the Fulham side. Ream and Robinson are a good example of the multiple pathways there are for players. Ream is from St. Louis and was developed domestically while Robinson was born in England to an American father and was eligible for both the English and American national teams. He was first capped U18 with the USMNT.
Arsenal vs Chelsea
Saturday 12/26/2020 12:30PM
Watch on NBCSN, fubo TV, Sling Blue and Hulu+TV Live
Chelsea is sitting at #5 and coming off of a win against West Ham while Arsenal is at #15 and haven’t won a match since the beginning of the month. Chelsea features Pennsylvania’s Christian Pulisic. The USMNT star returned from a hamstring injury three weeks ago and all indications point to him being fit to play this week. Pulisic has been the subject of all things US Player Development since he hit the international scene playing for Borussia Dortmund in 2015. He comes from a soccer family where both parents played collegiately and his father played and coached professionally which gave him access to training opportunities in England, Michigan and Pennsylvania where he trained with Development Academy: PA Classics.
Manchester City vs Newcastle United
Saturday 12/26/2020 3:00PM
Watch on NBCSN, fubo TV, Sling Blue, Universo and Hulu+TV Live
The Manchester City/Newcastle United match should be a good one with an American player on both sides of the match. Zack Steffen has been rotating at goalkeeper with Manchester City while DeAndre Yedlin is a starting defender for Newcastle.
Man City is riding a pretty hefty winning streak with Columbus Crew SC alum Zack Steffen leading the way with a 4-1 win over Arsenal this past Tuesday. Zack Steffen of Pennsylvania is probably best known to Ohioans for his time playing with the Crew and his 2017 & 2018 postseason heroics leading Columbus deep into the playoffs and earning the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2018 in addition to his USMNT caps. Before joining Philadelphia Union’s development Academy, Steffen played for FC Delco out of Downington, PA. Originally Steffen was a skillful field player, typically playing defense and didn’t play goalkeeper until he was 10 years old. Proving that goalkeepers need to learn the fundamentals of the field to develop into a proficient goalie.
Seattle’s Deandre Yedlin is no stranger to Ohio having attended and played for Akron. Yedlin came up through the youth system in Washington state not joining a development academy until age 15. Prior to joining USDA’s Crossfire Premier he participated in ODP and his local club team Northwest Nationals and Emerald City FC..
Boxing Day is considerably one of the best days of the year; nonstop soccer, kids are preoccupied with their Christmas gifts, there is plenty of food in the house and no real reason to leave (unless you have soccer training or a game somewhere, that would be acceptable). But really it is just a kick-off to the best week of the year (and last week of this incredibly weird year) each EPL team plays at least 2 games over the next week and many are playing two games in the next 72 hours...It's like Christmas!