On a day of heartbreak and elation tied into the relegation and promotion sweepstakes of English soccer, Stuart Holden’s Bolton finished today on the wrong side of that emotion ledger.
Holden was on the bench but unused as Bolton and Blackpool drew, 2-2.
Bolton finished alongside Leicester with 68 points but was way behind its English Championship rival in goal difference. So Leicester – the side near and dear to NBC colleague Arlo White – grabbed the playoff spot while Bolton is left to plan for next year’s reach to regain English Premier League status.
So beyond whatever post-season training Wanderers manager Dougie Freedman has in mind, Holden is done until he gets into Jurgen Klinsmann’s camp in a little over two weeks.
(MORE: Holden set for a national team return)
(MORE: Another reason to have Holden around the national team)
It also means Holden, who has committed to Bolton, will remain in England’s second tier for the foreseeable future. Here’s what Freedman said about Saturday and where things stand for his club in the bigger picture:
At one moment it appeared that a draw might do it, though we set out to win the game. It was all about us today, unfortunately we’ve come up just a little bit short. I couldn’t have asked for nothing more from my players.
“We’ve been on a fantastic run of late and can take pride from what we have been doing both on and off the field in the last three months. Yes, we’re disappointed now but we are very optimistic moving forward. We’re integrating young players into our team and are building something special going forward.
“We’ve put lots of plans in place that will stand this club in good stead for the future. … It’s no good thinking what might have been. We’ve got to look forward. I’m looking to make one or two changes that will help see us move up the league next season. Our targets have been identified and we’ve already been planning for next season.”
For a few dozen players, hearing their name called up to the big stage will validate all the hard work and sacrifices they’ve made since they were children.
Starting at 11:00 a.m. when Los Angeles FC is on the clock at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, the 2018 MLS SuperDraft will be underway. Many of the top college prospects will soon find out whether they’ll be headed to the Pacific Northwest, New England, the Southeast, Southern California or anywhere in between.
[MORE: 2018 MLS Mock Draft]
This year’s draft class is loaded with attacking talent, from Generation Adidas trio Ema Twumasi (Wake Forest), Mason Toye (Indiana) and Francis Atuahene (Michigan) to Twumasi’s college teammate Jon Bakero.
But potential No. 1 overall pick is a three-time national champion, Thomas Hilliard-Arce, who could become the anchor of a backline for a decade.
Follow along below as we update the picks live as we hear them:
MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich signed Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka on Friday on a free transfer from Bundesliga rival Schalke effective from next season.
Bayern said the 22-year-old Goretzka signed a four-year deal from July 1 through June 2022.
Schalke, which Goretzka joined in 2013 from hometown club Bochum, said the player informed the club this week of his wish to join Bayern when his contract expired.
[ MORE: Bundesliga scores ]
“We think we did everything in the last months to convince Leon to stay with us,” Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said. “In the end, it wasn’t enough.”
Schalke had long been engaged in trying to get Goretzka to extend his contract, but was aware of reported interest from Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool.
“We’re very happy that Leon Goretzka, a German international with big potential, has decided in favor of Bayern despite big-name international competitors. This way it’s ensured that Leon Goretzka remains in the Bundesliga,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
Goretzka scored 19 goals and set up 13 more in 130 appearances for Schalke.
The club had previously expressed its displeasure with Bayern making public statements about its player after Goretzka was praised by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and coach Jupp Heynckes.
Heidel said “we don’t need to hear every day from the Munich people how good our player is.”
Goretzka has six goals in 12 games for Germany.
The most famous soccer player in the world had a scare last night as he was hospitalized in Brazil for “severe exhaustion.”
Pele, 77, was set to travel to London this weekend to be honored by the Football Writers Association, though it looks like that trip has now been postponed.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, Pele collapsed and was taken to a hospital in Brazil where he has undergone a series of tests which appear to point to severe exhaustion,” a FWA statement said. “He remains on fluids while doctors monitor his recovery.
“Thankfully, there is no suggestion of anything more serious than exhaustion.”
Here’s to hoping Pele makes a full recovery.
[MORE: USMNT centerback heads to Championship club]
Cameron Carter-Vickers has a new club to call home for the next five months or so after a rough first half of the season.
Tottenham announced Friday morning that it had loaned the U.S. Men’s National Team centerback to Championship club Ipswich Town for the rest of the season. Carter-Vickers spent the first five months of the season at fellow Championship side Sheffield United, starting 17 times though he struggled recently as Sheffield won just one game he played in during the month of December, losing three and drawing one.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Carter-Vickers was then recalled earlier this week and now has a new home with a mid-table Championship club, with a new chance to impress. Hopefully Carter-Vickers can recover his form and continue to grow, potentially latching on to another Premier League side next year or breaking into the Tottenham first team.
There’s another interesting American tie-in to this. Carter-Vickers appears to be a short-term replacement for Ipswich Town’s Tommy Smith, who the club states is headed to join the Colorado Rapids ahead of the 2018 MLS season.