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EFL Cup wrap: USMNT’s Gooch shines; Watford upset

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Six Premier League teams dodged upsets upon entering the League Cup, stylized as the EFL Cup for a second season, but a seventh was not as fortunate.

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Watford 2-3 Bristol City

Etienne Capoue scored just after halftime to give the Hornets a leg up, but goals from Freddie Hinds and Bobby Reid eight minutes apart gave the Robins a lead that Niclas Eliasson buttressed in stoppage time. Adrian Mariappa pulled one back, but it wasn’t enough for Marco Silva‘s men.

Crystal Palace 2-1 Ipswich Town

The unbeaten Tractor Boys were as much of a problem as advertised, but James McArthur scored in the 76th and 84th minutes to give the Eagles a spot in the next round. Man City loanee Bersant Celina nabbed Ipswich Town’s lone goal.

MK Dons 1-4 Swansea City

Leroy Fer gave Swans a pair of leads at 1-0 and 2-1 before Tammy Abraham and Jordan Ayew scored late to salt away the win at Stadium MK.

Sheffield United 1-4 Leicester City

The popular score line saw Islam Slimani bag a brace in between goals from Demarai Gray and Ahmed Musa.

Carlisle United 1-2 Sunderland

USMNT youngster Lynden Gooch scored an 80th minute winner after assisting on Donald Love‘s opener, as the Black Cats scored a road win.

It’s the 21-year-old Gooch’s first senior goal for the Black Cats in his 19th appearance. It’s also his first assist and should give food for thought to boss Simon Grayson, who has been using him off the bench. Gooch played 362 Premier League minutes last season.

Tuesday’s other results
Aston Villa 4-1 Wigan Athletic
Leeds United 5-1 Newport County
Middlesbrough 3-0 Scunthorpe United
Norwich City 4-1 Charlton Athletic
QPR 1-4 Brentford
Fulham 0-1 Bristol Rovers
Cardiff City 1-2 Burton Albion
Doncaster 2-0 Hull City
Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 Barnet
Accrington Stanley 1-3 West Brom
Birmingham City 1-2 Bournemouth
Reading 3-1 (aet) Millwall
Bolton 3-2 Sheffield Wednesday
Grimsby Town 0-1 Derby County (1st round match*)

*Derby will face Barnsley in a 2nd round match

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

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The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

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Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

Sunderland adds Premier League vets McGeady, Vaughan

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Sunderland have added two attackers in a bid to return directly to the Premier League.

One will be quite familiar to many soccer fans, as Aiden McGeady comes from Everton having spent time with Celtic and Spartak Moscow.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

The 31-year-old Irishman scored eight goals on loan for new Sunderland boss Simon Grayson while at Preston North End last season. He has 90 caps and five goals for the Republic of Ireland.

The other attacker is a bit more of an unknown despite having seven Premier League goals to his name, the last coming in 2011 at Everton.. James Vaughan had a career season after dropping down to League One last season, where he scored 24 times in 37 matches.

The Black Cats have now added four players, all with connections to Everton (Earlier this window Sunderland added Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway on loan from the Merseyside set). That’s a bit ironic given that longtime Toffees boss David Moyes left Sunderland this offseason.

Defoe emotional in talking about ailing Bradley Lowery: “His love is genuine”

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New Bournemouth striker needed time to address his emotions when asked about Bradley Lowery, the young boy whose fight with cancer took root in the hopes of football fans last season.

The six-year-old Lowery is reportedly in end of life care after a battle with neuroblastoma, and Defoe grew very close to the boy during his time at Sunderland.

Lowery walked out Sunderland against Chelsea, and later accompanied Defoe to the pitch before the striker scored on his England return.

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The relationship is genuine, and Defoe has spent a lot of time with Lowery as the youngster fought his disease, Tweeting that the pair were “#bestfriends” in February.

From the BBC:

“I speak to the family every day. I was with him a few days ago and it was tough to see him suffer like that,” said the England international.

“He will always be in my heart for the rest of my life. There isn’t a day that goes past when I don’t wake up and check my phone or think about little Bradley.

“His love is genuine and I can see it in his eyes when he looks at me.”

That’s the part of being around children that is such a wonder: unconditional love. To be around that love while its holder suffers can be overwhelming. Our hearts are with the Lowery family, Defoe, and all young families fighting terminal diseases.

No takeover at Sunderland, but they do have new boss

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Ellis Short remains in charge at Sunderland despite several bids for a takeover, and the American businessman has approved a new manager.

Short has tabbed Preston North End boss Simon Grayson, 47, for the gig. Grayson previously coached Huddersfield Town and Leeds United, and gets the first crack at leading Sunderland back into the Premier League.

[ MORE: David Villa at it again ]

That they’ll do so with the same owner is a bit of a surprise, but a pair of investment groups did not meet Short’s hopes for a sale. One group withdrew its bid, while the other didn’t work out.

From the BBC:

“We would like to thank our supporters for their patience during what we know has been a period of uncertainty and frustration for them,” said Sunderland’s statement.

If the last name sounds familiar, Grayson is the son of Dick Grayson (better known as the Robin). Just checking to see if you’re still reading.

Players will be what makes the difference for Sunderland, with all due respect to Grayson. Let’s see who the Black Cats bring in this summer.