NWSL: Kansas City at North Carolina, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Lifetime. After North Carolina, the reigning NWSL champions, started the season 4-0, many were penciling in the Courage for a playoff spot. Since then, NCFC has lost three of four and needs to get back on track. Kansas City can’t score — it has only five goals in seven matches — but its defense is excellent.

 

Friendly: Venezuela at USA, 9 p.m. Saturday, FS1. The all-important World Cup qualifiers come later in the week, with the United States aking on Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday and Mexico on Sunday. This, then, is the team’s one chance to warm up together. U.S. national team fans are desperate to see how the team will play, and whether it will be ready for Thursday.

 

U-20 World Cup: USA vs. Venezuela, 1 a.m. Sunday, FS2. The South Korean locale for these games makes them fit mostly for night owls and die-hards. But if you can manage the middle-of-the-night time slot, you can see the so-far-undefeated young Americans on the world stage. It has been 28 years since the U-20 team made it past this quarterfinal round.

 

– long a laughingstock in MLS, a team known for starting slowly and ending even slower – in second place? The Fire’s four-game winning streak, in which it has outscored opponents 10-2, argues that it’s no mistake.