[THIS WEEK IN SOCCER: Feb. 3-9]This week will be an important one for David Beckham's MLS expansion bid as he rallies support for his group's effort to win approval for a Miami soccer stadium. Wednesday is also National Signing Day for high school seniors, and the week begins and ends with two big EPL clashes.
MONDAY, February 3
Jose Mourinho ramped up the rhetoric ahead of Monday's Manchester City-Chelsea clash (live on NBCSN and MUN2, 3 p.m. ET), labeling heavy-spending City "underachievers" under owner Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. "They won one title, won a couple of cups," said Mourinho. "The team is fantastic, the squad is fantastic and normally they [should] win more titles." City, which trails Arsenal by two points after the Gunners' win on Sunday, will move back into the lead in the EPL with a win. Chelsea enters the game three points behind City in third place.
WEDNESDAY, February 5
-- It's National Signing Day, the day when high school seniors will put ink to paper and make their college commitments. High schools and clubs all across the country will be conducting ceremonies to honor their student-athletes. The top senior in the girls class is U.S. under-20 national team's outstanding right back, Andi Sullivan, who is headed to Stanford. Most of the top senior boys are in MLS or at teams abroad. U.S. U-20 midfielder Romain Gall, based at French club Lorient, is taking the reverse path, having committed to play for Maryland.
-- David Beckham is back in town. He has been making the rounds, playing egg Russian roulette (below) with Jimmy Fallon on Late Night on Friday night and attending Sunday's Super Bowl before heading to Miami for a press conference with Mayor Carlos Gimenez and MLS Commissioner Don Garber. The press conference will follow talks on his group's plans to build a soccer stadium, the sine qua non for the awarding of an MLS expansion franchise in Miami.
SATURDAY, February 8
-- NBC's EPL coverage moves to USA Network because of live Winter Olympics' coverage on NBCSN. The weekend slate begins with a big one: Liverpool-Arsenal (live, 7:45 a.m. ET). The Reds remained in fourth but dropped two precious points Sunday when Kolo Toure gifted the tying goal in their 1-1 tie at West Brom. Arsenal is looking for its first EPL title in a decade.
-- The USA-Russia match at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton (live on ussoccer.com, 3:30 p.m. ET) kicks off a two-game series. The Americans enter the game with a 40-game unbeaten streak and 78-game unbeaten streak at home.
-- Nine MLS clubs are in preseason action. The highlight is a LA Galaxy-FC Shirak clash, marking the first time the Galaxy has faced a team from Armenia. The game should draw well at StubHub Center as Los Angeles is home to an Armenian community estimated to be upward of 250,000.