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COVID-19 season suspensions leave questions for transfer targets

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When USMNT fullback Reggie Cannon signed a new deal with FC Dallas, both sides knew the 21-year-old was not long for Texas.

But suspended seasons in Europe raise questions as to when the transfer window will open this summer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Speaking in a conference call, Cannon said “the goal was to be transferred this summer” but that he’s focused on the more serious health issues caused by the coronavirus suspensions.

“Regardless of if it happens [this summer] or not, I don’t think it’ll hinder my career at all,” Cannon said. “It’s God’s timing, I have to trust in him and have faith, which I do. At the end of the day, I know my future is over there, whenever that may be. I just have to be patient and kill it at FC Dallas. Dallas is my priority and what I care for right now. That future is great and I’m looking for it, but right now I have to give 100 percent to Dallas.”

Cannon has 11 caps for the USMNT and 72 first-team appearances for FC Dallas. He turns 22 on June 11, the same age as DeAndre Yedlin when the Seattle Sounders man headed abroad.

For every up-and-coming player looking to get into a top league in Europe, there are a bevy of installed talents hoping to keep their spot.

Bournemouth captain Simon Francis wants to keep the Cherries in the top flight, and says he’s got something to prove before becoming a free agent this summer. From The Bournemouth Daily Echo, citing The Sun:

“We have nine games left and if in those matches I need to prove that I can still cut it at this level, then so be it.”

Francis’ contract expires June 30, but he’s not just curious about his own deal. Bournemouth is in a relegation fight, and what happens with guys like him, Charlie Daniels, Andrew Surman, and star winger Ryan Fraser.

“Would you sign a short-term contract with the club you are currently at and commit your short-term future? Or do you think, ‘No, this club wants me for next season, I’ll hold off’? … If the season does go beyond June 30, we are going to need Ryan (Fraser) because he would play a massive part in our fight to stay up.”

Finishing European seasons by June 30 would still be likely if the league kicks back into action at the end of April. We’ll see what it means for hundreds of players if the calendar turns to July.

Europe-seeking Sheffield United show ‘real belief and drive’ (video)

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Sheffield United did it again Sunday, claiming all three points in a 2-1 defeat of Bournemouth at Bramall Lane.

The match had a bit of everything, including threats of postponement as Storm Ciara wreaked havoc on football in Europe.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Blades went down early but got goals from Billy Sharp and John Lundstram to move back into fifth place on the Premier League table.

And now it’s simply impossible to ignore than Sheffield United may qualify for Europe in an even more impressive and improbable achievement than Burnley a couple of seasons ago.

“We’ve just rolled on and rolled onto the next game, took the defeats on the chin and tried to win the next game,” Wilder said. “We’re not a comfortable team and I’m not a comfortable manager. The points total, 39 points, at this stage of the season is fabulous from a promoted side but we go again. … We want to achieve something this season and we can’t take our foot off the gas. I know that and the players know that better than anybody. The performance today was that of real belief and drive.”

The match also saw manager Chris Wilder and Bournemouth’s Andrew Surman trade shoves on the touch line.

“I got a little bit frustrated, bits and pieces that went off this afternoon. I’m not used to it but maybe I need to get used to it a little bit more. It was nothing. We’re both passionate team and there’s certainly nothing between the benches.”

The Blades may well join Europe’s participants next season, and they’ll have a chance to collect more points with three bottom-half sides ahead, but the real test comes in the final eight fixtures. That’s when Sheffield United meets six Top Seven hopefuls.

Sheffield United comes back, bounces Bournemouth

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one: Sheffield United got a second-half equalizer from Billy Sharp to sting Bournemouth.

This one came Sunday at Bramall Lane as part of a 2-1 Blades win over the Cherries, some 25 matchdays after his opening day leveller at the Vitality Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

John Lundstram found the winner for the victorious Blades, getting an assist from ex-Cherries outcast Lys Mousset. United climbs into fifth with 39 points, two points behind Chelsea. The Blues have a match-in-hand.

Callum Wilson scored for Bournemouth, who remains two points clear of the drop zone.


Three things we learned

1. Death, taxes, and Billy Sharp equalizing versus Bournemouth: If Blades veteran striker Sharp leaves the side after one year, there’s a distinct possibility he walks away with two Premier League goals. Both would be equalizers against Bournemouth. The two points earned by those may be the difference in Sheffield United’s case for Europe. The four points dropped on their account could send Bournemouth to the Championship.

Sharp has scored two other goals against the Cherries in his career. They came in January and December of 2006 for Scunthorpe United in League One.

2006. Sharp has played against Bournemouth with three separate teams in the Top Three levels of English Football (Leeds United in the Championship, no goals).

2. Lucky charm Lundstram scores in new role: John Lundstram lost his place in the Starting XI when Blades added record signing Sander Berge, but that didn’t stop him from affecting the proceedings. Lundstram came on for Berge in the 61st minute to snap in his fourth league goal, and the Blades are 5-0 when he scores or assists this season.

3. Feisty affair extends off the field: Fourth official Jon Moss had a busy day, first having to okay a pitch soaked by Storm Ciara and then having to break up a clash caused by Storm Wilder. Blades boss Chris was upset by remonstrations after John Egan was whistled for a foul on Dan Gosling, and Cherries veteran Andrew Surman was ready to get in the mix.

[ READ: Wilder reacts to scrum, Top Four effort ]

Man of the Match:  Sharp? United’s four best players on the day were either subs or subbed off: Berge, Lundstram, Sharp, Mousset. Team win.


A scrappy match early, Callum Wilson missed a back-post bid to make it 1-0 in the 11th minute.

Callum Wilson got his goal two minutes later, as Harry Wilson‘s shot was blocked and his surname-sharing striker belted the rebound into the top of the goal.

The Blades’ Billy Sharp couldn’t find an equalizer from a very tight angle in the 15th minute.

One of the most notable moments from the rest of the half was a venomous slide tackle on Harry Wilson by Enda Stevens which earned a yellow card.

Chances were few and far between on a weather-hobbled day, but Blades found their way in stoppage time.

A sequence of control saw Oliver Norwood‘s 45th minute hit turned off Nathan Ake but went wide of the frame and Aaron Ramsdale made a great save on the ensuing corner.

That’s when Sharp did his magic, located at the back post off another corner. He smashed home a pinball in the second minute of stoppage.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

John Egan was whistled for a foul after going boot-to-boot with Dan Gosling, leading to a touchline spat and yellow cards to Andrew Surman and Blades boss Chris Wilder.

Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser earned a 61st-minute corner that Ake snapped just wide of the frame.

Henderson then stopped another Fraser bid, this one a 71st-minute rocket from about 10 yards. That helped set up the moment for Lundstram’s winner off an assist from ex-Bournemouth man Lys Mousset.

Watch Live: Bournemouth v. Sheffield United

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Bournemouth and Sheffield United will go ahead as planned at 9 a.m. ET Sunday despite Storm Ciara concerns causing the postponement of Man City-West Ham (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

A match that would’ve been pegged as a possible relegation bout before the season sees Sheffield United aiming for fifth place with a win.

[ STREAM: Bournemouth v. Sheffield United ]

The Cherries open the day just two points clear of the drop zone and can climb 15th with a win thanks to Brighton’s Saturday draw with Watford.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Blades record signing Sander Berge starts in an unchanged side for manager Chris Wilder, while Andrew Surman is the only change to Eddie Howe‘s XI.

LINEUPS

Bournemouth

Sheffield United

Premier League Preview: Bournemouth v. Tottenham

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  • Spurs (still) lead the top-three race, somehow
  • Cherries sit 14th, safe from relegation
  • Spurs won 5-0 at Wembley back in December

Tottenham Hotspur continue to lead the top-three and -four race that seemingly no one — not even them — wants to win. Yet, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side has two more chances to secure Champions League qualification by a very straightforward formula: they need just three points, beginning when they visit 14th-place Bournemouth on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

With Chelsea (68 points) just two points back in fourth and Arsenal (66) trailing by four, it’s Tottenham’s place to lose. To be certain, they have tried to do so again and again, only to see their London rivals falter immediately thereafter. Take, for instance, last weekend: Spurs lost to West Ham, but Chelsea drew Manchester United and Arsenal were hammered 3-0 by Leicester City. It’s been that kind of month for top-six sides not named Manchester City or Liverpool.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

As for the Cherries, they’re long since clear of the relegation zone and have very little left to play for, and it’s looked that way in recent outings. Eddie Howe‘s men have picked up just nine points from their last 12 games (2W-3D-7L), though they are on something of an upswing with four of the nine points coming in their last three games.

Injuries

Bournemouth OUT: Lewis Cook (knee), Junior Stanislas (hamstring), Simon Francis (knee), Charlie Daniels (knee), Andrew Surman (calf), Diego Rico (ankle) | Spurs — OUT: Harry Kane (ankle), Harry Winks (groin), Erik Lamela (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Jan Vertonghen (head)

What they’re saying

Howe, on Bournemouth’s need for continued progression: “People will use ‘established.’ I don’t know if we have ever used that word. For us, it’s not a useful thing to look at, you can then get complacent and lazy,” he said at a press conference. “For us it is about having to prove we deserve to be here first and foremost every season, so that means starting the campaign with a really good mentality to go to achieve and progress.”

Pochettino, on Spurs’ performance this season: “I always remember the first meeting that we had all together, when the World Cup players arrived, and we said, ‘We all start from zero. It’s going to be a difficult season and we need to be open to improve and to fight.’ We’ve always built some spirit inside the dressing room to fight against the reality. It was tough but in the end we are in a very good position. We feel very proud.”

Prediction

Spurs have fared remarkably well against Bournemouth (6W-1D-0L since the Cherries were promoted in 2015), as has Son Heung-min on an individual level (four goals in the last two meetings). It’s all setting up for Spurs to secure a top-four place on Saturday and free their minds for Wednesday’s trip to Amsterdam for the second leg of the Champions League semifinals.

Fans who want to try their hand at predicting PL games can down the NBC Sports Predictor app, with a chance to win up to $50,000 each week. Download it on iOS or Google Play.