Kevin De Bruyne

Chelsea keeping Kevin de Bruyne waiting and waiting and waiting …

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When you’re an up-and-coming 20 year old who finally gets that ‘big club’ contract, you’re juiced. It’s the break you’ve been waiting for, the time when you’re finally on the verge of stepping into the limelight and becoming a household commodity in world football. Fourteen months after signing with Chelsea, midfielder Kevin de Bruyne is still waiting for that to happen.

The Belgian international came to Stamford Bridge in January 2012 when Chelsea purchased him from Genk – a surging feeder club that has produced the likes of Christian Benteke, Thibaut Courtois and Anthony Vanden Borre. Yet after a year in the fold, few football lovers would recognize de Bruyne if he was standing next to them at a bar sipping a shandy while wearing his Belgian kit. That’s because – surprise, surprise – immediately after signing with the Blues he was loaned back to Genk for the remainder of the spring before spending the entire 2012-13 campaign at German side Werder Bremen.

Credit to the winger, he hasn’t let the demotion effect him on the pitch. In 26 Bundesliga appearances, de Bruyne has banged home six goals and served as provider on eight occasions. Despite the heroics Bremen has struggled and sits 14th in the table, a mere 6 points from the drop zone.

de Bruyne’s football has been equally tasty on the international level where he’s scored twice and assisted twice in five World Cup Qualifying appearances. The fact that he’s accomplished this for the new darling of every footie bro (‘dude, Belgian’s roster is sooo sick, definitely a dark horse to win World Cup 2014‘), only adds to the player’s intrigue.

On Friday, it was de Bruyne who opened the scoring for the Diables Rouges in their 2-0 win over Macedonia. The blonde ambition was played the ball on the right side of the pitch, cut inside and skinned defender Alexander Lazevski before slamming a near post rip past the utterly confused Macedonia netminder, Tome Pacovski. Determined, technically precise, and full of guile, the goal was a feat to behold.

So with his stock rising on both club and international stages, de Bruyne was asked whether he still had aspirations to play at Stamford Bridge. “That’s the reason that I signed there last year,” he said with a pained look of obviousness and desperation.

“I want to show everyone at Chelsea that I can play there. But at the moment I don’t know what Chelsea want to do with me, so it’s difficult to say what’s going to happen with me in the next year, or years. I have to just wait.”

What Chelsea want to do with you, my dear Kevin, is keep you on ice. Maintain you as part of the inventory at the Stamford Bridge warehouse. Keep working hard and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be recalled this summer for the pre-season firecracker against the mighty Singha Thailand All-Star XI. Now wouldn’t that be fun?

If it sounds harsh, sorry kiddo, but this is life at Chelsea, where attacking midfielders are all the rage. The typical front three of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Haaaaathaarrrrrrr clearly have the starting roles on lockdown. After the tiny trio, guys like Victor Moses and Marko Marin sit quietly on Rafa Benitez’ bench, frothing at the mouth to enter a match in the final three minutes and somehow impress. Making matters worse, the do-it-all Ramires is always happy to oblige in any position throughout the midfield.

It’s a dirty game, but not one without lessons, mainly, know the ‘big club’ club you’re signing for before you go searching for that limelight.

Sunderland yet to make approach for Bob Bradley

Bob Bradley
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Former U.S. national team head coach Bob Bradley has emerged as one of the front-runners to take over at Premier League side Sunderland.

However, ProSoccerTalk can confirm that Sunderland have yet to make an approach to his current club, Stabaek, about talking to Bradley, 57, about their vacant managerial positions. But the American coach — who has also been linked with taking over at Norwegian giants Molde — is currently able to speak with other clubs himself as his contract runs out in November.

If Bradley does end up at Stadium of Light, he will become the first American to manage in the Premier League.

[ MORE: Chelsea statement on Mourinho ]

Bradley has led tiny Norwegian outfit Stabaek to second place in the Tippeligaen with four games of the 2015 season remaining, and the former Chicago Fire, New York MetroStars, USMNT and Egypt head coach has worked wonders in just his second season in charge of the modest club in Oslo’s suburbs who were only promoted to Norway’s top-flight for the 2014 campaign.

His current deal runs out at Stabaek in the coming months, with Bradley telling ProSoccerTalk last month that the club believes there “needs to be an opportunity at a higher league” for Bradley and it is clear Stabaek wouldn’t stand in his way if this move came to fruition and he had to leave his role early. He also added that “when we get to the end of the year we will size up everything and figure it out.”

[ SPORTSWORLD: Bradley’s Norwegian journey – “That’s Football” ]

That suggests that the man who led the U.S. to the Confederations Cup final in 2009 and the World Cup last 16 in 2010 may well see out the final four games of the season at Stabaek, which would mean he wouldn’t arrive at Sunderland until November 8 at the earliest. That’s unlikely to happen but with Rosenborg eight points clear of Stabaek at the top of the Tippeligaen with four games to go, results in the next matchday could mean Stabaek’s title hopes will be over on October 17. If that is the case, Bradley will still likely want to stick around and finish his two-year project with European qualification but the lure of a move to manage in the world’s most recognizable league could be too much of a pull.

Other candidates for the Sunderland job include former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson and Sam Allardyce who are the joint favorites ahead of Bradley, plus Burnley manager Sean Dyche is also being linked with the role. Harry Redknapp has ruled himself out of taking the job, while Pearson and Allardyce are also believed to be unsure. 

The job at Sunderland has become a poisoned chalice in recent seasons with many managers wary of damaging their reputation by joining the Black Cats. American owner Ellis Short has pumped millions into the north east club but players under-performing and managerial instability has riddled the Mackems as they once again find themselves in a perilous situation after a few weeks of the season. In each of the last two campaigns both Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat led Sunderland to dramatic late escapes from relegation, while the latter left his role on Sunday after failing to secure a victory in the opening eight games of the current PL season which leaves the Black Cats in 19th spot on three points. Advocaat was heavily critical of the directors and said that “the squad is too thin” upon departing the Stadium of Light.

If Bradley is offered the chance to take on the mammoth challenge of rescuing Sunderland from relegation, a task of that magnitude is not alien to him after he led the Egyptian national team through a revolution to the brink of the 2014 World Cup and has worked miracles at Stabaek, a club with one of the smallest stadiums and budgets in Norwegian soccer, where he has them challenging for the title and they’ve reached the cup semifinals in each of his two seasons in charge so far. 

Many fans of U.S Soccer would believe now is the time for Bradley to show what he can do in a top league in Europe. 

USA 4-0 Panama: United States top Group A

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 01:  Jordan Morris #9 of the USA celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the 1st minute of the 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying match against Canada at Sporting Park on October 1, 2015 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The United States U-23 team exploded for four goals in the second half to down Panama 4-0, as the U.S. finish atop Group A in Olympic qualifying with a perfect three wins from three matches.

They advance to the semifinals, where they will face either Mexico or Honduras.

Thanks to a 2-2 draw between Canada and Cuba earlier in the evening, the U.S. had already clinched the top spot in Group A before this match began. With the United States’ win, Canada also advances into the semifinals as the second-place team.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The U.S. had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 11th minute, but Panama goalkeeper Elieser Powell made a higlight-reel save on Gedion Zelalem. Maki Tall moved in and fired a low shot on goal, forcing Powell to dive down and make a stop. The rebound rolled right out to Zelalem, who had the whole goal in front of him, but somehow Powell reached to get a hand on it, deflecting the shot over the bar.

Tied 0-0 at halftime, Andreas Herzog made some adjustments to his lineup, bringing in Jordan Morris and Jerome Kiesewetter for Tall and Zelalem. The substitutions paid immediate dividends, as the United States jumped out to a three-goal lead within minutes.

[ MORE: Donovan believes Klinsmann should be fired if USMNT loses to Mexico ]

In the 51st minute, Gboly Ariyibi’s cross took a deflection off Fidel Escobar and into the net, ruled an own goal on the Panamanian defender.

Two minutes later, substitute Jerome Kiesewetter took a pass from Luis Gil and fired a right-footed shot from a tight angle to the far post, doubling the United States’ lead. It was a very clean finish from the German-born Stuttgart product.

Three minutes after scoring a goal, Kiesewetter grabbed an assist as he combined with fellow substitute Jordan Morris to make it 3-0. Kiesewetter ran down the right wing and played a low cross in, where Morris tapped home his third goal of the tournament.

Kiesewetter continued his stellar half, blowing by a defender before doing well to draw a foul in the box. Luis Gil stepped up to the spot and buried the penalty, as the U.S. went 4-0 up in the 71st minute.

With the result, the United States heads into the semifinals with a +11 goal differential, outscoring their opponents 13-2 in the group stage. A win in the semis would guarantee the U.S. a spot in the 2016 Olympics.