The Weekender: Magic acts in MLS

Henry won't play quite yet, but matches on tap are a doozy

rsl-magic

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Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

There was no bigger story this week than the MLS arrival of Thierry Henry, but you already knew that. And you probably also know that Henry – who appeared Thursday for the first time at a press conference at Red Bull Arena – left fans wanting when it was learned he’ll travel this weekend but won’t suit up for the Red Bulls against Columbus.

Talk about a magic act. Make a world-class player appear, but then leave him behind the curtain? Of course, he’ll be playing soon enough, but The Weekender couldn’t help wondering what other magic tricks are out there this weekend to discover.

New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, Direct Kick)

The disappearing act is magic’s most deceptive trick. But that’s just what fans got from their new hero Henry, who won’t fill out the roster in the marquee matchup of the weekend. Henry’s understandably slated to make his debut next week in a friendly against Tottenham, meaning the Red Bulls will have to face the Crew for Eastern Conference bragging rights with – sigh – the date they actually brought to the dance. And that’s been more than good enough for Hans Backe’s boys, but remember that 3-1 hurting the Crew put on back at Red Bull Arena in May? The Red Bulls certainly do.

Tottenham Hotspur at San Jose Earthquakes (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN)

The toughest magic trick in San Jose would be making tickets to this one appear out of thin air. Getting into Buck Shaw Stadium for this afternoon tilt has proven wonderfully tough, thanks to Bay Area fans furiously scooping up tickets in anticipation for one of the summer’s most underrated friendlies. Fewer than 100 tickets remained on Friday morning for this match, which is big enough, in fact, for ESPN to swoop in, drop some video trucks on the lawn and beam it out on the mother ship.

Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas (Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, Direct Kick)

Want some scoring magic? Look no further than Jeff Cunningham, who has won the Golden Boot for both clubs in this matchup and is still the only player to win the award for two different sides. But even a red-hot Cunningham (if, in fact, he were red-hot) might not help against this RSL defense, which hasn’t allowed a goal since Brigham Young’s boys broke ground in Salt Lake City. This is the premier matchup out West and would be the game of the weekend if not for Crew-RBNY, with both FCD and RSL carrying impressive unbeaten streaks into Pizza Hut Park.

At the Theater: Inception

The trailers for this new Christopher Nolan mindbender made The Weekender a little irritated, and we weren’t alone. The Atlantic recently ran a poll asking readers if the foghorn-laden music from the film’s trailers was more annoying than a vuvuzela: the vuvuzela defended its honor, predictably. Evidently the latest from the director of The Dark Knight and Memento is all about dream invasion and has something to do with Leonardo  DiCaprio, but let’s be real. The effects seem like pure blockbuster magic. It’s been a sleepy summer at the box office, and this one could at least provide a wake-up call for what popcorn flicks should look like.

Bookmark: No Way Down: Life and Death on K2

The magic act here? Simply surviving one of the most devastating climbing accidents in recent memory. Released late last month, this book from New York Times reporter Graham Bowley chronicles the lives and untimely deaths of 11 climbers in August 2008 on none other than K2, the deadliest mountain in the world. Adventure books are a dime a dozen in an era when everyone’s looking to keep up with Jon Krakauer, but this one is worth its salt.

In Concert: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago)

There is no better reappearing act this weekend than this one, as Jon Spencer takes the stage on Saturday at Union Park. There was no one better at grimy blues-rock-punk in the 1990s and early aughts, but where have they gone? They’ve been working on side projects and rarely touring as a group since 2004, the last time they released a studio album. Festivals like Pitchfork are rarely about the headliners – Modest Mouse and LCD Soundsystem, in this case – and more about who rocked the undercard. These guys are proven contenders. Get there if you can.