Bob Bradley: Swansea City entering “critical period” in season

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Bob Bradley is looking to build on his first win as Swansea City manager.

Bradley, 58, became the first-ever American coach to win a Premier League game last Saturday as the Swans beat Crystal Palace 5-4 in an incredible game at the Liberty Stadium.

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This Saturday Bradley takes his team on the road to White Hart Lane (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSports.com) and he knows the challenge will be a tough one.

But it isn’t just the upcoming battle against Mauricio Pochettino‘s men which is in his focus. Bradley also has one eye on the run of six games coming up after Swansea’s trip to Spurs as they face Sunderland, West Brom, Middlesbrough, West Ham, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace.

“I think it’s a critical period between now and the beginning of the new year,” Bradley said. “I keep getting asked questions about the January transfer window, but I also understand that between now and then, there are a lot of important matches. It’s a busy schedule through the holidays, and it’s an opportunity for us to turn things around – to put a bad start behind us and really give a bit more belief to the idea that we are ready to end the season in a strong way.”

For Swansea, heading to Spurs is almost a free hit. Nobody expects them to get anything at the Lane (they’ve never beaten Spurs in the Premier League, in case you were wondering) and a point would be a great result for Bradley’s side.

However in the run of six games following this weekend, 18 crucial points are up for grabs and 12 points would be a great haul from those matches around the festive period and they’d go a long way to pushing the Swans towards midtable.

First up Bradley will look for Swansea to win the home games against Sunderland, West Ham and Bournemouth and then nab a win on the road at West Brom, Middlesbrough or Crystal Palace. All of those six teams are right around the South Wales club and if Bradley is going to drag them out of the relegation zone then winning as many of these “six pointers” (nope, it’s not too early to call them that) is crucial. Especially when you look at the schedule in January…

Arsenal, Liverpool, Southampton, Manchester City and Leicester City come in the five games after this “critical period” for Swansea.

The main thing Bradley will try to improve is the defense because we saw how bad some of the set piece defending was against Palace, plus a severe lack of luck has gone against the Swans with own goals flying in too. Those are the kinds of things which happen when you’re down there.

That said, Bradley has the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Leroy Fer scoring regularly and if Fernando Llorente stays fit, he will also be a danger man.

If Swansea can get through December with three wins under their belt, things will be looking a lot better for Bradley.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Chelsea still pursuing Roma duo, and more

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Chelsea is looking to make a big transfer splash as it searches for potential replacements for Michy Batshuayi and David Luiz.

According to multiple reports, Chelsea is attempting a double signing from AS Roma, forward Edin Dzeko and midfielder Emerson Palmieri. The Brazilian left-back is rated by Roma at $30.5 million but he could join Chelsea on loan. However the interest in Dzeko is much newer, and it’s unclear whether Roma would allow Dzeko to leave, especially in the middle of the season.

[READ: MLS SuperDraft 2018 Live Tracker]

With Roma preparing to face Inter Milan this weekend, talks between the two clubs have been put on hold until next week.

Dzeko’s agent confirmed that Conte is interested in the Bosnia and Herzegovina international but stated Dzeko’s desire is to remain at Roma.

After failing to beat out Sergio Aguero in the starting lineup for Manchester City, it would be interesting to see Dzeko give the Premier League another go, although he’d likely play second-fiddle again, this time to Alvaro Morata.

Here are some more transfer rumors from around Europe and the Premier League:

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MLS SuperDraft 2018 Live Tracker

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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:

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Bayern signs Germany midfielder Goretzka from rival Schalke

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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.

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“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.

Pele hospitalized overnight in Brazil

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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]