August is here, and it brings a wonderful collection of sports and unique events in its first week. Two big European football leagues begin their regular seasons, The Basketball Tournament plays its final with a huge grand prize on the line, the race to the FedEx Cup starts, MLB interleague play gives us some great series matchups, and the last four teams play for a spot in the U.S. Open Cup Final. All of that plus the season premiere of Hard Knocks and the first full weekend of preseason NFL action. August is coming in hot.
Must Watch: English Premier League and French Ligue 1 Kickoff
The English Premier League incoming transfer window closes Thursday and then the new season begins Friday, when Ligue 1 in France kicks off as well. English teams can still sell players until the end of the month, but it's unlikely any big names change clubs after Thursday when there's no opportunity to replace them until the winter. The big question in France is whether Neymar will still be with Paris Saint-Germain at the close of the window or if he'll make a return to Barcelona.
Pep Guardiola, Raheem Sterling and defending EPL champion Manchester City began 2019 domestic play Sunday with a win on penalties to claim the Community Shield over Jurgen Klopp, Mo Salah and Liverpool, last season's league runner-up who open Friday against promoted Norwich City. City will start league play Saturday, and reigning French champion PSG and Lille, buoyed by the addition of American teenage forward Timothy Weah, debut Sunday.
Liverpool vs. Norwich City, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Monaco vs. Lyon, 2:45 p.m. on beIN Sports
West Ham United vs. Manchester City, 7:30 a.m. on NBCSN
Tottenham vs. Aston Villa, 12:30 p.m. on NBC
Newcastle United vs. Arsenal, 9 a.m. on NBCSN
Lille vs. Nantes, 9 a.m. on beIN Sports
Manchester United vs. Chelsea, 11:30 a.m. on NBCSN
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Nimes, 3 p.m. on beIN Sports
Watch This: The Basketball Tournament Final
Two million dollars are at stake Tuesday night at the final of The Basketball Tournament in Chicago. In its sixth year of play, the tournament has a field of 64 teams made up of professional players, former college stars and anyone who can get a bucket. Played over the course of the summer, the March Madness-type event brings drama and quite a high level of basketball during the college and NBA offseason.
Carmen's Crew, made up of Ohio State basketball alumni, defeated four-time TBT champion Overseas Elite in the semifinals. Golden Eagles, former players from Marquette, defeated Team Hines to reach the final. Every team in the semifinals was a No. 1 seed.
TBT uses the Elam Ending to finish every game, which posts a target score late in the fourth quarter and eliminates the need to foul and stop the clock by the team that's behind. Ultimately, it results in every game finishing on a made shot, taking it back to pickup games at the park being played to 21. But at the end it's simple: the winning team gets $2 million. Watch the final Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Former Buckeyes standout guards William Buford and Aaron Craft headline the roster for Carmen's Crew, which is coached by OSU alums Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner. The Golden Eagles are coached by alum and longtime pro international player Joe Chapman and have been led on the court by guards Travis Diener and Maurice Acker.
More to Watch
1. FedEx Cup Tees Off
The PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs begin this weekend with the first of a trio of tournaments to close the season. The Northern Trust opens Thursday from Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City, New Jersey. After the Northern Trust, the chase continues with the BMW Championship from Medinah, Illinois, next week and concludes at the Tour Championship in Atlanta the following week.
A new scoring system for the FedEx Cup events this season will ensure that whoever wins the Tour Championship will win the FedEx Cup, aiming to best combine the finishes across the final three tournaments.
World No. 1 Brooks Koepka holds a sizable lead in the current FedEx Cup standings. Koepka will lead a predictably stacked field into play Thursday, also featuring Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and defending tournament champion Bryson DeChambeau. Groups and tee times will be announced Wednesday.
You can watch Thursday and Friday coverage on live on Golf Channel from 2-6 p.m. ET. On Saturday, coverage is on Golf Channel from 1-2:45 p.m. then moves to CBS from 3-6 p.m. Final-round coverage Sunday runs from 12-1:45 p.m. on Golf Channel and concludes on CBS from 2 p.m. until a winner is crowned. You can also stream live coverage all day each round on PGA Tour Live.
2. U.S. Open Cup Semifinals
The last four of the American domestic cup competition kicks off with Atlanta United facing Orlando City on Tuesday night in Florida (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+). Atlanta and Orlando have had a natural geographic rivalry stoked by each Major League Soccer club's supporters. On the field, the matchup has been lopsided, as Atlanta has never lost in two years of play.
Tuesday's winner will advance to the final and face the winner of Wednesday's match between Minnesota United and the Portland Timbers (8 p.m. ET on ESPN+).
Minnesota entered MLS the same season as Atlanta but has not had nearly the success so far. The Loons' run into the USOC semifinals has been a big boost in their third year. The Timbers are always among the best teams in MLS, but despite two MLS Cup appearances and one title win, Portland has never triumphed in this competition. In fact, with these semifinalists, the eventual champion will raise the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the first time.
Then league play returns beginning Thursday night as the homestretch begins in the run to the MLS playoffs. Take a look at the table here and don't miss these monster matchups:
NYCFC vs. Houston Dynamo, 7 p.m. on ESPN+
Saturday (on ESPN+)
Seattle Sounders vs. New England Revolution, 7 p.m.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake, 8:30 p.m.
Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 11 p.m.
Atlanta United vs. NYCFC, 4 p.m. on ESPN
Philadelphia Union vs. Houston Dynamo, 6 p.m. on ESPN+
DC United vs. LA Galaxy, 7:30 p.m. on FS1
LAFC vs. New York Red Bulls, 10 p.m. on FS1
3. Interleague Play Around the MLB
Since division realignment in Major League Baseball a few years ago, there's an interleague matchup every night. But this week we'll have a whole handful of series between teams from the American and National League, including three series featuring playoff contenders at the top of their divisions or in the thick of the wild-card races. Check out the standings here.
Each series runs three games from Monday through Wednesday:
Atlanta Braves at Minnesota Twins: The NL East leaders face the MLB leaders in home runs. Tuesday's matchup at 8:10 p.m. on MLB Network features Minnesota's Jose Berrios, while Atlanta's Max Fried starts Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. on MLB Network.
Oakland Athletics at Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have a tiny lead atop the NL Central, while the A's are right there for the second wild-card spot in the AL. Watch Monday at 8 p.m. on ESPN, Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. on MLB Network (featuring Oakland's Brett Anderson facing Chicago's Jon Lester, who pitched for the A's in 2014) and Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. on MLB.TV.
St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers: The NL wild-card leaders take on the team with the majors' best record in a big series out West. First pitch on Monday and Tuesday is at 10:10 p.m., with Wednesday's matinee starting at 3:10 p.m. (all on MLB.TV). St. Louis has been a bit of kryptonite for Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the postseason, and the Cardinals will get another crack at him Tuesday night when he opposes Miles Mikolas.
4. Hard Knocks and Preseason NFL
After Hall of Fame inductions over the weekend, it's time to get down to business heading into the NFL preseason. That means tuning into the drama that is Hard Knocks on HBO, which this season will follow the Oakland Raiders through training camp and features big personalities in coach Jon Gruden and wide receiver Antonio Brown.
This season of Hard Knocks premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. on HBO, and you can watch the trailer here. If you prefer game action on the field (or as close as you can get to that during the preseason), Thursday night has a large slate of games, featuring the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots traveling to the Detroit Lions and the new-look Cleveland Browns hosting Washington. Both games are at 7:30 p.m.
What's on B/R Live
1. UEFA Champions and Europa League Qualifying
A historic European power and semifinalist last season enters the Champions League qualifying stages this week. Ajax, despite its thrilling run to the final four in the competition last year, does still have to qualify for the group stage this season. As a result, the Dutch club must take care of business beginning with its first leg Tuesday, and it must do it without two top contributors from a year ago, with Frenkie de Jong off to Barcelona and Matthijs de Ligt transferred to Juventus. But Ajax is still Ajax, with plenty of firepower.
Along with Ajax's match, you can stream a select group of third-round, first-leg UCL qualifying matches this week here on B/R Live. They are:
PAOK vs. Ajax, 1 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Ferencvaros, 2 p.m.
Krasnodar vs. Porto, 1 p.m.
Basel vs. LASK, 2 p.m.
First-leg matches in the third round of Europa League qualifying get underway this week as well, with a quadruple-header of action streaming here on B/R Live on Thursday. Another semifinalist from last season features here too, with German club Eintracht Frankfurt making its way through the qualifying stages.
Pyunik vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers, 12 p.m.
Sparta Prague vs. Trabzonspor, 12 p.m.
Midtjylland vs. Rangers, 2 p.m.
Vaduz vs. Eintracht Frankfurt, 2:30 p.m.
2. Celtic SPFL season debut on B/R Live
The reigning Scottish Premiership champions return to league play on B/R Live this weekend as Celtic travels to Motherwell (Saturday at 7 a.m. Watch here) The Celts roared out of the gates in their season opener last week with a 7-0 win over St. Johnstone.
1. Hall of Fame or Bust
Legendary safety Ed Reed received his gold jacket Friday night and his gold bust Saturday night in Canton, Ohio, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. His likeness instantly stole the show.
2. Houston, We Have No Hits
You may have heard the Houston Astros acquired pitcher Zack Greinke at the trade deadline, adding an ace to an already-loaded starting rotation. You may not have heard they also added two more pitchers, Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini, who combined with two other Houston relievers to throw a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday. The Astros are the second team to toss a combined no-hitter against Seattle this summer, joining the Los Angeles Angels, who did it on the night they honored late pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
3. Love Yourself, Not Your Baseball Card
Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber was the MVP of this year's All-Star Game, but that honor still couldn't prevent this error from appearing on the bio of his baseball card.
4. Madden 20 Gets Personal
New York Jets rookie defensive lineman Quinnen Williams continues to be the interview gift that keeps on giving. He went viral for blessing himself and thanking himself after a sneeze before the draft, and over the weekend he talked about finally getting to play with himself in the famous video game…pause.
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