Matches to Watch: Newcastle, Hull City bid to beat the drop
Bundesliga outfit Hamburg and Premier League sides Newcastle and Hull will all bid to beat the drop this weekend, while Middlesbrough and Norwich eye promotion from the Championship and the San Jose Earthquakes face Orlando City in MLS. Here's five matches to watch:
Bundesliga: Hamburger SV vs. Schalke (live, Saturday May 23, 9:30 a.m. ET)
Struggling Hamburg face Schalke in a do-or-die clash on the final day of the Bundesliga season. Hamburg are the only club to have played every season in the Bundesliga since the league's formation in 1963, but they must beat Schalke on Saturday and hope results go their way.
Hamburg currently occupy 17th place in the 18-team Bundesliga and have 32 points, with Stuttgart 16th (33), Hannover 15th (34), Freiburg 14th (34) and Hertha Berlin 13th (35). The bottom two teams go down automatically, while the team finishing 16th face a relegation play-off. Although Hamburg lost a crucial league match to Stuttgart 2-1 last time out, they had drawn one and won two of their previous three matches so had form a bit of form. Coach Bruno Labbadia needs another three points to avoid making unwanted history for HSV.
Premier League: Hull City vs. Manchester United (live, Sunday May 24, 10 a.m. ET)
Steve Bruce's Hull City face Manchester United this Sunday and the Tigers must win to avoid the drop to the Championship. Hull looked to be climbing away from the relegation zone after wins over Crystal Palace and Liverpool in late April, but three successive defeats have put their place in the top flight in jeopardy after promotion two years ago.
Bruce must now mastermind a victory over his former club and hope Newcastle take nothing from their home clash against West Ham. A point could be enough for Newcastle to stay up if Hull win, as Newcastle have a superior goal difference. Manchester United's players may already have their minds on the beach as they have already qualified for the Champions League for next season by finishing fourth.
Premier League: Newcastle United vs. West Ham United (live, Sunday May 24, 10 a.m. ET)
Newcastle have lost nine and drawn one of their last 10 matches in the Premier League and could fall through the trap door this Sunday. John Carver was handed the reins by unpopular owner Mike Ashley in January on an interim basis after the departure of boss Alan Pardew. But rather than being a steady pair of hands until the end of the season, Carver has overseen a slump in form that could end with the Toon being relegated on the final day of the season.
It's either Newcastle or Hull City that will fill the last remaining relegation place, with Newcastle two points above third-from-bottom Hull, who have 34 points. Sam Allardyce could be on his way out of West Ham, despite overseeing promotion to the Premier League and preserving the club's PL status for three seasons. Allardyce was sacked by Newcastle in 2008, but now his West Ham side could send down his former employers.
Major League Soccer: San Jose vs. Orlando City FC (live, Sunday May 24, 7 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1)
Orlando City travel to San Jose in a confident mood after their 4-0 win over LA Galaxy last Sunday, but their form has been inconsistent so far this season. The Lions have three wins, three draws and five defeats, despite having the likes of Kaka among their squad.
San Jose will provide tough opposition, with five wins, two draws and four defeats so far, and the Earthquakes beat Columbus 2-0 in their last match. San Jose look to be the favourites, but Adrian Heath's OCSC will be aiming for a positive result as they look to improve their consistency.
Championship: Middlesbrough vs. Norwich City (live, Monday May 25, 10 a.m. ET)
Middlesbrough face Norwich in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Monday, with both teams hoping to reach the promised land of the Premier League and the riches that come with it.
Norwich are bidding to return to the top flight at the first attempt after relegation last season, while Boro have been in exile in English football's second tier for five seasons. Just one point separated Norwich in third place (86) and Middlesbrough (85) in fourth at the end of the regular season, and the play-off final promises to be a close contest with glory for the winner and dejection for the loser.