New England Revolution v New York Red Bulls - FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup

A disquieting contract kerfuffle playing out with New England defensive centerpiece Jose Goncalves

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There was so very much for New England Revolution fans to be excited about this year. Finally!

Youngsters like Kelyn Rowe and Scott Caldwell have quietly become two solid MLS starters. (Well, Rowe made some noise here and there, but Caldwell’s development really has come on the down-low.)

Right back Andrew Farrell seemed set for a nice sophomore season under manager Jay Heaps, a young manager now into his third year on the job, surely learning new ways to improve himself and the team every single day.

Lee Nguyen remains a dependable attacker, although he still needs a front-line striker to feed. And it’s all built around defensive centerpiece Jose Goncalves, the reigning MLS Defender of the Year, among the top league revelations of 2013, someone coming back to police the back line at Gillette once again.

Wait! What?

Uh-oh. Seems that Goncalves isn’t quite ready to commit to a second year for the Revs. And that is some terribly disquieting news for Revolution fans.

Goncalves seems to feel less than fully loved around Gillette. The Revs say they love him dearly – while reminding us that he’s under contract. This is either a negotiating kerfuffle that will be stitched up quickly … or it’s a big ol’ mess.

A few things seem clear:

  • There is some talking out to be done between these parties.
  • This conversation will evolve into the next pressure point as MLS supporters boo-hoo the salary cap and its restrictive implications. The counterweight is, as it always has been: without a salary cap, the league probably would already have died. That’s always the larger context for these conversations, although fans hate to hear that.
  • If this is just negotiating tactic for Goncalves, it’s hard not to connect some dots here and think that Major League Soccer made a major mistake in not playing hardball with Vancouver striker Camilo, who forced a move with his recent gambit.
  • All of this is complicated by the fact that Goncalves’ was originally a loan player (from Swiss side FC Sion) who played so well that the loaner turned into a purchase.  See Kyle McCarthy’s good work via Twitter for more on that.
  • Fairly or not in this case, this will be filed in plenty of minds alongside other evidence that the Kraft family doesn’t like to spend money on its MLS team.

Oh, and there’s this: The New England Revolution is a playoff contender with Goncalves in the lineup, especially if they secure that striker. Without him … probably not.

Watch Live: Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Lineups and Live Stream)

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Tottenham Hotspur’s thin hopes of winning the Premier League demand all three points from its visit to Chelsea on Monday (Watch live on NBCSN at 3 p.m. ET and online via Live Extra).

Spurs are eight points behind Leicester City, and a loss or draw makes the Foxes the 2015-16 champions.

[ MORE: Burnley clinches promotion to the Premier League ]

Reigning champion Chelsea, in an odd twist, can play the spoiler for either its London neighbors or the fairytale Foxes.

 

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Begovic; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Mikel, Matic; Willian, Fabregas, Pedro; Diego CostaSubs: Amelia, Baba, Loftus-Cheek, Kenedy, Oscar, Hazard, Traore.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (c), Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Dembele; Lamela, Eriksen, Son; Kane. Subs: Vorm, Davies, Wimmer, Carroll, Chadli, Mason, Clinton.

“It’s magic” — Goal hero Vokes hails Burnley’s Premier League return

BURNLEY, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 02:  Sam Vokes of Burnley (obscured) scores their first goal past goalkeeper Matt Ingram of QPR during the Sky Bet Championship match between Burnley and Queens Park Rangers at Turf Moor on May 2, 2016 in Burnley, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images
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Sam Vokes‘ 61st minute header has Burnley back in the Premier League at the first time of asking, and there’s only one way to describe it.

Magic.

[ MORE: Bobby Wood to Hamburg for $4 million? ]

Burnley clinched automatic promotion thanks to its 1-0 win over QPR and Brighton’s draw earlier in the day. With Brighton facing Middlesbrough this weekend, only one could pass Burnley in points.

Take away the math, though, and Burnley is flying off the emotion of the 1-0 win.

From the BBC:

“It’s magic, it’s a great feeling. You could feel the anticipation around the place when we kicked off. We knew what we had to do after the Brighton result earlier. Magic scenes here today. Getting that goal sparked relief around the place. I missed a lot of the Premier League last season but hopefully I’ll get another chance next season.”

And here’s Sean Dyche, classically stoic in the face of extreme emotion:

“That was well off our performance level but the result was all that mattered today. The resilience, belief and character got us through. You can’t be brilliant every week, we don’t think we’re the real deal, but we’re a real group that sticks together.”

If you don’t know much about Burnley, we suggest Joe Posnanski’s SportsWorld piece from last season’s Premier League campaign.

Congrats to the Clarets.

Burnley clinches automatic promotion to the Premier League

PRESTON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 22:  Andre Gray of Burnley holds up one finger to indicate the score to opposing supporters as he is substituted during the Sky Bet Championship match between Preston North End and Burnley at Deepdale on April 22, 2016 in Preston, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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One claret and blue team has been relegated from the Premier League, but another is taking its place.

Sam Vokes did not score in 15 Premier League appearances last year with Burnley, but his goal on Monday boosted the Clarets back into England’s top flight.

[ MORE: Bobby Wood to Hamburg for $4 million? ]

Vokes, 26, headed home in the second half to give Burnley a 1-0 lead over Queens Park Rangers, and the Clarets held on to make sure their absence from the Premier League was a mere season long.

The win gives Burnley 90 points with one match to play. With Middlesbrough and Brighton & Hove Albion sitting on 88 points and playing each other on the final day of the season, only one winner can pass the Clarets.

Report: USMNT striker Wood would cost Hamburger around $4 million

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 29:  Bobby Wood #7 of the United States Men's National Team controls the ball against Guatemala during the FIFA 2018  World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The United States defeated Guatemala 4-0.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
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There seems to be growing interest in USMNT striker Bobby Wood, who is having a sensational season for Union Berlin in 2.Bundesliga.

Linked with Liverpool in March, Wood is now said to be desired by Hamburg in Germany’s top flight.

[ MORE: Klinsmann calls up 40 for Copa America camp ]

Hamburg’s strike corps consists of young target forward Pierre-Michel Lasogga, ‘Gladbach loanee Josip Drmic and veteran Ivica Olic.

Bild.de says the fee is around $4 million, but that the club has yet to begin discussing terms with Union.

Wood has 17 goals and 3 assists in league play this season, and has also become a mainstay with the U.S. team under Jurgen Klinsmann.

[ MORE: Timbers striker wanted by Palace, St. Etienne ]

Union Berlin is sixth in 2.Bundesliga, while Hamburg is 11th in Bundesliga.

Fellow USMNT striker Aron Johannsson has faced a long injury lay-off with Werder Bremen, while a similar situation has faced Terrence Boyd. The latter is with Red Bull Leipzig and is set for a promotion to the Bundesliga barring extreme unlikelihood over the final few weeks.