By Paul Kennedy and Ridge Mahoney
MLS is off, as are the big European leagues, but there is lots of soccer on the air over the next six days.
The final 11 berths in the World Cup will be decided, and all the playoff games -- the two legs of the four European series and the second legs of the five Africans series and two intercontinental series -- will be available to U.S. viewers.
The action begins Friday with the first legs of the four European playoffs and ends Wednesday with New Zealand-Mexico (kickoff at 1 a.m. ET) and Uruguay-Jordan, both mere formalities.
FRIDAY, November 15
ICELAND-CROATIA(ESPN3) 2 pm.
PORTUGAL-SWEDEN (ESPN Deportes, ESPN3) 2:40 pm.
UKRAINE-FRANCE(ESPN3) 2:40 pm; (ESPN Deportes, delay) 4:45 pm.
GREECE-ROMANIA (ESPN3) 2:40 pm.
SATURDAY, November 16
NIGERIA-ETHIOPIA(BeIN Sport, Bein Sport en Espanol) 10 am.
SENEGAL-IVORY COAST(BeIN Sport, Bein Sport en Espanol) 2 pm.
SUNDAY, November 17
CAMEROON-TUNISIA (BeIN Sport, Bein Sport en Espanol) 9 am.
TUESDAY, November 19
EGYPT-GHANA (BeIN Sport, Bein Sport en Espanol) 11 am.
ALGERIA-BURKINA FASO (BeIN Sport, Bein Sport en Espanol) 1 pm.
ROMANIA-GREECE(ESPN3), 2 pm.
CROATIA-ICELAND (ESPN3), 2:15 pm
SWEDEN-PORTUGAL (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes), 2:25 pm.
FRANCE-UKRAINE(ESPN3), 3 pm.
WEDNESDAY, November 20
NEW ZEALAND-MEXICO(ESPN, Univision, Univision Deportes), 1 am
URUGUAY-JORDAN (BeIN Sport, Bein Sport en Espanol) 6 pm.
Note: All times are ET.
(Check network web sites for streaming availability online and on tablets and mobile phones.)
VIERI HIRED BY BEIN SPORT. Former Italian international Christian Vierihas been hired to join the ranks of beIN SPORT commentators, deputy managing director Antonio Briceno told Soccer America in an exclusive telephone interview Thursday.
Briceno said Vieri, 40, will soon start appearing as a guest on the network’s studio show, “The Locker Room,” and would take up a spot as a regular contributor early next year.
“He played in Spain and France and for the three biggest clubs in Italy as well as the Italian national team,” said Briceno. “We think his experience is very good for our audience.”
Vieri, who was born in Italy but raised in Australia, retired in 2009 after a long career in Europe that included time at Atletico Madrid and Monaco, as well as stints in his native country with many clubs, including Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan. He also scored 23 goals in 49 international appearances for Italy, for which he contributed nine of those goals in as many games during the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.
He joins former Mexican international striker Hugo Sanchez, hired last month for the network’s Spanish-language outlet, beIN SPORT en Espanol. Sanchez debuted as a commentator on coverage of the Barcelona-Real Madrid match Oct. 26.
“We think our fans want to hear from these former players about what it is like to be in the biggest games,” said Briceno. “With Hugo, it’s not only that you have someone who won the [La Liga] scoring title more times [five] than anyone when he was with Real Madrid, but also the very hard job as coach of the national team of Mexico.”
MEN'S COLLEGE ACTION.Men's college conference tournament play will conclude Sunday with four games on ESPN3, plus games on ESPNU, Fox Sports 2, CBS Sports Network and BTN, among others.
Click here for all the listings.