Championship Sunday roundup: Chelsea crowned, Liverpool secures UCL spot

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Antonio Conte‘s successful first season at Stamford Bridge concluded in style on Championship Sunday as Chelsea — the 2016/17 Premier League winners — ended their title-winning campaign with a convincing win in front of their home supporters.

With everything else to play for essentially locked up heading into the final day, the most attention was on Anfield and the Emirates Stadium as both Liverpool and Arsenal fought in their respective matches to capture the fourth and final Champions League spot.

Meanwhile, finishes were aplenty on the day as 37 goals came in on Sunday, including Tottenham’s seven-goal outburst at Hull City.

Here’s a final look back at Championship Sunday and a brief recap of the results that came in from all 10 matches:

[ MORE: All of PST’s Championship Sunday coverage ]

Chelsea 5-1 SunderlandRECAP

It’s only fitting that the Blues went out in style on Sunday after already capturing the league. The win over already-relegated Sunderland brought Chelsea’s victory tally up to 30 on the season, a new Premier League record. Conte’s men fell behind after three minutes, but from there, it was smooth sailing as Willian, Eden Hazard, Pedro and Michy Batshuayi‘s brace gave the home side a thrilling send off to the PL campaign.

Chelsea’s next step will be to clinch the double next weekend when the champions take on fellow Londoners, Arsenal, in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

Hull City 1-7 Tottenham HotspurRECAP

In many other seasons Tottenham’s performance would have won them a title, but Spurs still ended the season in fantastic style away from home. Harry Kane cemented his place as Golden Boot winner for the second straight season after recording a hat-trick at the KCOM Stadium on Sunday.

Meanwhile, goals also came in from Dele Alli, Ben Davies, Toby Alderweireld, and Victor Wanyama as Spurs destroyed the hosts, who will fall to the Championship next season following relegation.

Watford 0-5 Manchester CityRECAP

The Citizens needed just a point on Sunday to ensure a top four finish, and Pep Guardiola‘s side took no risks against the Hornets with a dominating performance on the road. Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho found the back of the net at Vicarage Road, as Manchester City finishes third in Guardiola’s first PL season.

Liverpool 3-0 MiddlesbroughRECAP

It was the only major battle of the day but Liverpool needed a victory to keep Arsenal out of the UCL, and the Reds did just that with a strong performance at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp‘s side captured fourth place and a spot in next season’s UCL behind goals from Georginio WijnaldumPhilippe Coutinho, and Adam Lallana, while Middlesbrough’s PL run officially came to an end on Sunday as they go back down to the Championship in 2017/18.

Arsenal 3-1 EvertonRECAP

The Gunners took care of business at the Emirates, despite playing with 10 men most of the day, but Liverpool’s victory guaranteed that Arsenal would miss out on the UCL for the first time in Arsene Wenger‘s tenure. Goals from Hector Bellerin, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey paced the hosts, even after Laurent Koscielny was sent off in the 14th minute. Romelu Lukaku‘s second-half penalty brought the scoreline to 2-1 with over half an hour remaining, but Everton couldn’t crack the Arsenal back line for a second time.

Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images

Manchester United 2-0 Crystal PalaceRECAP

It was the youngsters that starred for Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, and although there wasn’t much to play for from either side’s perspective, Josh Harrop certainly made an impression on the Red Devils supporters. The 21-year-old recorded his first Manchester United goal on Sunday (becoming United’s 100th different PL goalscorer), while Paul Pogba doubled the lead for the hosts prior to halftime.

A win for United in Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League final would give Mourinho’s men a lift into next season’s UCL, despite finishing outside the PL top four.

Southampton 0-1 Stoke CityRECAP

Peter Crouch tallied his 50th headed goal of his PL career on Sunday to give Stoke a narrow victory at St. Mary’s. Southampton finishes inside the top 10 (8th place) despite the loss, while the Potters end up in 13th with their 11th win of the season.

Leicester City 1-1 BournemouthRECAP

It was a tumultuous campaign for the Foxes, but a draw on Sunday pretty much summed up their overall season. Average. It certainly wasn’t anything like their Cinderella feat from a season ago but Leicester will be back in the PL next year, and that’s all that really matters. Junior Stanislas scored in his third consecutive match for the Cherries, but Jamie Vardy‘s 13th finish of the season registered a point for Leicester, who finish the second in 12th position.

Burnley 1-2 West Ham UnitedRECAP

Sofiane Feghouli and Andre Ayew gave the Hammers something to cheer about on the final day, however, the London side fell just shy of a top-half finish. West Ham ends the 2016/17 season in 11th while Burnley survives to reach another PL season after finishing in 16th position.

Swansea City 2-1 West Bromwich AlbionRECAP

Paul Clement has to be proud of the way his Swans performed to close out the season, and they’ll have a PL stay as proof of it next season. The hosts went down thanks to a Jonny Evans finish, but goals from Jordan Ayew and Fernando Llorente gave Swansea its 12th victory of the season and a 15th place finish in the PL. Meanwhile, West Brom closes their campaign with a finish in the top 10.

Vidal rips Ronaldo ahead of Confederations Cup semifinal

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Chile hopes to make a statement on Wednesday when it faces EURO 2016 champions Portugal and Ballon d’Or champion Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 2015 and 2016 Copa America champions can lay claim to another inter-confederation title with two more wins in the 2017 Confederations Cup, beginning with the semifinal in Kazan.

[ MORE: Chelsea sells Traore ]

Chile finished behind Germany in Group B but didn’t lose a match and only allowed two goals. That’ll be tested by Portugal and its seven goals in three matches.

Two of those goals came from Ronaldo, but don’t tell that to Arturo Vidal. Chile’s hard-edged midfielder doesn’t like him much.

From Goal.com:

“Cristiano is a smart ass,” he told reporters. “For me he does not exist.

“I have already told my Bayern Munich team-mate Joshua Kimmich that we will meet again in the final.”

Germany will have to take care of Mexico to make that happen, though we have a feeling a certain smart ass will have a thing or two to say before it’s all said and done.

Vidal has spoken loudly of his desire to get Chilean teammate Alexis Sanchez, a former Barcelona man, at his club Bayern Munich. If Ronaldo is on the market, this isn’t a great recruiting tool. Ah, jokes.

Trio of Crew players in Ghana roster to face USMNT, Mexico

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Ghana’s team to face the United States men’s national team on Saturday in East Hartford will look somewhat familiar to fans of Major League Soccer.

Columbus Crew players Harrison Afful, Mohammed Abu and Jonathan Mensah join David Accam of the Chicago Fire, and Gershon Koffie of the New England Revolution on a unit with Kwadwo Poku of the NASL’s Kwadwo Poku.

John Boye, Asamoah Gyan, and Mensah are the only three players from the loss to the USMNT in the 2014 World Cup.

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Like the U.S., this is a less than full-strength squad. Missing are a number of Black Stars standouts, with Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Afriyie Acquah, Daniel Amartey, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Christian Atsu, Jeff Schlupp, and Baba Rahman not with the team.

Saturday’s match is the last USMNT outing before the Gold Cup begins on July 8 in Nashville against Panama.

Goalkeepers: Addo Joseph (Aduana Stars), Richard Ofori (Wa All Stars)

Defenders: Lumor Agbenyenu (Munich 1860), Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew),  Nicholas Opoku (Berekum Chelsea), Jerry Akaminko (Eskiserhispor),  John Boye (Sivasspor), Rashid Sumalia (Al Gharafa), Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew), Samuel Sarfo (Liberty)

Midfielders: Mohammed Abu (Columbus Crew, Isaac Sackey (Alanyaspor), Ofori Ebenezer (Stuttgart), Kwadwo Poku (FC Miami), Winful Kwaku Cobbinah (Hearts of Oak), Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht), Thomas Agyepong (NAC Breda), Gershon Koffie (New England Revolution)

Strikers: Asamoah Gyan (Al Alhi), Raphael Dwamena (FC Zurich), Majeed Abdul Waris (Lorient FC), David Accam (Chicago Fire)

Timo Werner abused in Germany but key to World Cup defense

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) The abuse has followed Timo Werner for months, gathering pace as rapidly as the striker has amassed goals.

No German player was more prolific in the Bundesliga last season. No player was as ostracized.

But Werner is now a full-blown Germany international, scoring his first goals at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, and he could hold the key to the World Cup defense next year.

[ MORE: USMNT’s 23-man roster questions ]

That could require Germany supporters to forgive a player they jeered at during his first competitive game for Joachim Loew’s team earlier this month.

“Kobe Bryant has also been booed everywhere and he always been the best,” Werner reflected ahead of Germany’s Confederations Cup semifinal against Mexico on Thursday, seeing a kindred spirit in the basketball great. “I do not want to say that I am the best like him, but (the abuse) is a bit of an incentive.”

If playing for the ascendant but deeply unpopular Leipzig wasn’t bad enough, a dive in December by Werner provided a focal point for the animosity – jealousy, perhaps – toward the Red Bull-funded team.

The insults have even been hurled far from Germany, far from soccer stadiums. The dive won a penalty against Schalke, and provided Werner with one of the 21 goals that helped to propel Leipzig into second place and a Champions League debut next season.

“There was a dive, he made a mistake and he admitted it,” Loew said, “but he is very, very young player.”

And a potentially very important one for Loew at the World Cup in Russia next year. Germany’s striking options are being assessed at the eight-team Confederations Cup as Loew still seeks a long-term successor to Miroslav Klose as target man for the world champions.

[ MORE: Chelsea sells Traore ]

Werner opened his account for Germany on his fourth appearance, scoring twice in a 3-1 victory over Cameroon on Sunday in Sochi.

“Werner put in a lot of legwork,” Loew said. “He showed how dangerous he is and that he’s got a great nose for goal. Both of his efforts were very well taken.”

Werner’s rivals for a place in the squad next year include fellow squad newcomers Lars Stindl and Sandro Wagner. They are both close to 30, while the 21-year-old Werner has youth, strength and speed on his side. Even Wagner said he has “never seen such a good striker at that age.”

That’s a result of Werner fusing his pace with intelligence on the ball, mastering dribbling at high speed first with Stuttgart and then at Leipzig.

“There’s no recipe for it,” Werner said. “The quickest players just know how to do it automatically. I like to knock the ball three or four meters ahead of me when I’m on the counter or have space in front of me, that way I can increase the distance between a defender and myself.”

Such proficiency should help Werner win over fans beyond Leipzig. Time, he hopes, will heal the fractures, and there’s certainly support from his new international teammates.

“I wish him well because of the issues he has had to endure,” captain Julian Draxler told Germany’s ARD television.

Rob Harris is at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

More AP Confederations Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/ConfederationsCup

USMNT Gold Cup 23-man roster leaves some questions

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We have Bruce Arena’s 23-man United States men’s national roster for the Gold Cup, and there are more than a few surprises left out of the bunch.

Often a chance to experiment, those who thought this year’s Gold Cup roster would be one aimed at reclaiming glory with authority may be surprised to see the status quo.

Jurgen Klinsmann brought most of his big guns to the 2015 party — which didn’t go well for Brad Guzan and Co. — but Arena will roll into this summer’s tournament without most of his big names. There’s no Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, Michael Bradley, Christian Pulisic, Clint Dempsey, nor Jozy Altidore.

Those aren’t huge surprises, though who Arena neglected from his original 40-man short list is a bit of a shock to the system (Players can be called into the mix after the group stage, which is a fairly simple affair for the USMNT to navigate versus Panama, Martinique, and Nicagarua).

Arena is going with Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson, and Bill Hamid in a trio that fails to impress. Hamid does have a big crowd of fans who’d like to see him get a chance to assert himself as the future, and hopefully either Johnson or Hamid finds time between the sticks against a serious opponent like Panama. No surprise that Tim Howard and Joe Bendik didn’t leap into the trio (EDIT: This post initially questioned the omission of Jesse Gonzalez, but his one-time switch from Mexico to the USMNT has yet to go through).

We’ll ignore the omission of Danny Williams for the most part considering he was absent from the 40-man list, but he must have said something seriously awful to Arena or someone at U.S. soccer.

The group of forwards leaves little to complain about, as Juan Agudelo and Dom Dwyer very much deserve their chances to compete for playing time with Sounders star Jordan Morris, but the midfield provides some head-scratching. Gyasi Zardes may be a longtime Arena favorite, but the Galaxy man has been ice cold in MLS. The 25-year-old has a single assist in almost 1000 minutes of play this season, and that came back on April 8. Tommy McNamara has not lighting the league on fire and Chris Pontius and his six assists are 30 years old, so much of the grief should be directed at the 40-man again, but Zardes has to embrace this opportunity. And maybe it’s a way to help the Galaxy and Zardes get a little mojo.

As an aside, Wil Trapp is among leaders in several MLS passing stats, which leads me to believe Arena is going to play Dax McCarty and Kellyn Acosta a ton and doesn’t see much of a need for Trapp in this tournament, not ever.

Defenders Steve Birnbaum and Jonathan Spector were not rewarded with looks, though Graham Zusi was included in what must be an arm reaching out for USMNT experience. Birnbaum is leading MLS in aerials won per game and Spector is by far Orlando’s top rated player since returning from England. Yes, Spector is 31 but this is about still qualifying for next summer’s World Cup, not the 2022 cycle. Spare a thought for Matt Polster, who has been decent since returning from a knee strain. This is nothing against Zusi, a consummate professional who won’t kill the team by any means and will be an tremendous asset in leadership.

What about you? Any other gripes? Or do you love the bunch?