Premier League preseason: Pulisic scores; Jimenez returns; draws for Arsenal, Spurs

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Premier League teams are fully in preseason mode as Christian Pulisic scored, Raul Jimenez returned and plenty of big teams were in action.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Chelsea beat Peterborough United, Wolves lost to Crewe Alexandra and Arsenal drew with Glasgow Rangers, with Tottenham drawing at neighbors Leyton Orient.

The main takeaways from all of that is: a) Christian Pulisic scored a penalty kick for Chelsea. b) Raul Jimenez returned to action for the first time in eight months after he suffered a fractured skull.

Jimenez returning is a huge story and the El Tri star wore a protective head guard as he continues to step up his remarkable recovery.

Below are some more details from the Premier League teams in preseason action.


Chelsea 6-1 Peterborough United

A very informal behind-closed-doors friendly took place at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground as Hakim Ziyech scored a hat trick, Christian Pulisic won and scored a penalty kick, plus Tammy Abraham and Armando Broja also scored against Championship new boys Peterborough.

Pulisic started and played the first 45 minutes as the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Marcos Alonso, Ross Barkley, Baba Rahman, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Conor Gallagher all featured, as Thomas Tuchel will be waiting a long time for Chelsea’s EURO 2020 stars to return to preseason.


Crewe Alexandra 1-0 Wolves

Okay, so not a great result for Wolves as Christopher Long scored the only goal of the game for the League One side, but this was all about Raul Jimenez.

His miraculous return to the pitch after a fractured skull last November was the major moment as new Wolves boss Bruno Lage took charge of his first game. Jimenez started the game and then came off as a sub, with the El Tri star hitting the crossbar with a deflected free kick.

Mexico and Wolves fans, and all fans, will be delighted to see Jimenez return to the pitch as his lengthy recovery reached a major milestone.

Next up: Jimenez back playing, and scoring, in the Premier League.


Glasgow Rangers 2-2 Arsenal

The Gunners continue to struggle a little in preseason as they’ve now lost to Hibernian and drawn at Rangers in their two friendlies so far. Balogun put Rangers ahead but new signing Nuno Tavares equalized.

Rangers took the lead in the second half through Itten but Eddie Nketiah equalized late on as Mikel Arteta’s side continue to ramp up preparations for the new season without a few key players, but they’re only missing a handful of stars…


Leyton Orient 1-1 Tottenham

Nuno Espirito Santo took charge of his first game as Spurs boss and as an inexperienced side drew at League Two Orient. Ruel Sotiriou equalized for Leyton Orient after young striker Dane Scarlett slotted home calmly.

Joe Hart, Eric Dier, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Harry Winks, Lucas Moura, Dele Alli and Steven Bergwijn all started, as Santo brought on plenty of subs and he of course is missing several key players due to the international action. Here’s what Nuno had to say.

Other Premier League teams in preseason action

AFC Wimbledon 0-1 Brentford

Walsall 0-1 Crystal Palace

King’s Lynn Town 1-3 Norwich City (Friday)

USMNT releases 60-man Gold Cup prelim roster; Mexico recalls Chicharito

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The list of 60 players vying to make the USMNT roster and lead it to glory at the 2021 Gold Cup includes some very intriguing propositions.

As expected in a group that big, there are the very young and quite experienced, the unknown and the too-familiar, and the names capable of making even national team pool nerds go scrambling to their favorite online player databases.

[ LIVE: Full EURO 2020 scores, tables ]

It’s interesting that Gregg Berhalter has included eight players from outside North American club soccer and a ninth from USL side Louisville City (17-year-old defender Jonathan Gomez, who has represented the U.S. and Mexico at youth levels).

Here’s an example of the cross-section of experience on display.

  • Exciting USYNT debutants: Gianluca Busio, Caden Clark, Ricardo Pepi, Moses Nyeman
  • Older first-timers: Tim Melia, Memo Rodriguez, Eryk Williamson
  • European imports: Julian Green, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matthew Hoppe
  • Old hats: Jozy Altidore, Brad Guzan, Gyasi Zardes
  • USMNT regulars: Sebastian Lletget, Walker Zimmerman, Reggie Cannon.

How will he line them up? Who is a real long shot and who’s a true automatic? We have so… many… questions and one of them is, “If you’re dividing up four teams and playing a training camp tournament can we watch them all? Live stream, plz?”

Also of note is the inclusion of Ayo Akinola on Canada’s roster, who will be a Canadian national teamer for life should he appear in the Gold Cup.

Canada is not messing around with the tournament, by the way, as Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies highlight a team which will ready for the third round of World Cup qualifying rather than evaluate the player pool.

Mexico has gone very first-choice, too, following its loss to the USMNT in the CONCACAF Nations League Final. Diego Lainez, Hector Herrera, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Andres Guardado, and Hirving Lozano are among those going for Gold Cup glory.

USMNT preliminary roster for 2021 Gold Cup

Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Matthew Turner, Brad Guzan.

Defenders: Walker Zimmerman, Sam Vines, Auston Trusty, James Sands, Miles Robinson, Donovan Pines, Kevin Paredes, Shaq Moore, Henry Kessler, Julian Araujo, George Bello, Reggie Cannon, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Justin Che, Kyle Duncan, Chase Gasper, Jonathan Gomez, Aaron Herrera.

Midfielders: Leon Flach, Gianluca Busio, Cole Bassett, Johnny Cardoso, Caden Clark, Julian Green, Sebastian Lletget, Djordje Mihailovic, Moses Nyeman, Andres Perea, Kellyn Acosta, Memo Rodriguez, Cristian Roldan, Hassani Dotson, Tanner Tessmann, Eryk Williamson, Jackson Yueill.

Forwards: Gyasi Zardes, Mason Toye, Matthew Hoppe, Robbie Robinson, Ricardo Pepi, Chris Mueller, Jonathan Lewis, Nicholas Gioacchini, Jesus Ferreira, Daryl Dike, Jeremy Ebobisse, Cade Cowell, Corey Baird, Paul Arriola, Frankie Amaya, Jozy Altidore.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Championship playoffs: How to watch, schedule, odds, predictions

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The Championship playoffs are here, and it’s going to be a heck of a battle to see which team grabs the final spot in the Premier League for the 2021-22 season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

One of Barnsley, Brentford or Swansea City will be in the Premier League next season, joining Norwich City and Watford who were promoted automatically after the gruelling 46-game regular Championship season.

But now comes the finale to England’s second-tier, so often a mad, absorbing and agonizing league. Once you’re in the Championship, it is very tough to get out, and these four teams have a shot at the riches of the Premier League, with an estimated $150 million-plus jackpot going to the winner of the playoffs through PL promotion.

Barnsley and Bournemouth surged into the playoffs late in the season, while Swansea and Brentford were the favorites for many to get promoted automatically both have to be content with a spot in the playoff lottery.

Both Brentford and Swansea missed out in the playoffs last season, while Bournemouth lost to Brentford and will not join Norwich and Watford with instant promotion back to the top-flight.

With USMNT youngster Daryl Dike leading Barnsley’s unlikely charge after an incredible loan move (he’s scored nine goals in 19 outings) for the striker since January, plus Swansea being American-owned and young USMNT center back Cameron Carter-Vickers playing for Bournemouth, there is a lot of American interest in these playoffs.

It’s safe to say with or without Barnsley getting promoted, Dike will be playing in the Premier League next season as a transfer from Orlando City in MLS is very likely to happen.

Below is everything you need to know ahead of a possible three games which could define these clubs for many seasons to come.


How to watch, stream Championship playoffs

When: Monday, May 17 and 22, semifinals
TV Channel/Stream: ESPN+
Live updates, stats: Online via NBCSports.com


Schedule

First leg
Monday, May 17: Barnsley 0-1 Swansea City
Monday, May 17: Bournemouth 1-0 Brentford

Second leg
Saturday, May 22: Brentford 3-1 Bournemouth
Saturday, May 22: Swansea City v. Barnsley – 1:30pm ET

Final
Saturday, May 29


Championship betting odds – Provided by our partners Pointsbet

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links. 

Second leg
(+190) Swansea City v. Barnsley (+155). Draw: +205
(-106) Brentford v. Bournemouth (+275) Draw: +250


Predictions

Second leg
Saturday, May 22: Swansea City 2-1 Barnsley
Saturday, May 22: Brentford 1-2 Bournemouth

Brentford beat Bournemouth in thriller, reach playoff final – Video

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A wild second leg saw Brentford seal a superb comeback win to beat Bournemouth and reach the Championship playoff final at Wembley for the second-straight season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Bournemouth led 1-0 after the first leg and took an early lead in west London as Arnaut Danjuma finished off a counter attack clinically to make it 2-0 on aggregate.

But then all hell then broke loose.

First, Championship leading goalscorer Ivan Toney scored a penalty kick which was harshly awarded for a handball, as Bournemouth captain Amir Begovic was booked as an angry melee was sparked in the celebrations.

Moments later, Bournemouth were down to 10 men as former Brentford defender Chris Mepham took down Bryan Mbeumo and was sent off.

And although Bournemouth held out down a man until the second half, Vitaly Janelt made it 2-1 on the day and 2-2 on aggregate with a bizarre goal. He attempted to tackle Jefferson Lerma but instead struck the ball straight into the top corner from outside the box to give Brentford a precious lead.

Amid a crescendo of noise from the 4,000 home fans, half time substitute Marcus Forss was then the hero.

In the 81st minute the Finnish international striker just got ahead of USMNT center back Cameron Carter-Vickers at the near post and prodded home to send the Brentford fans wild.

The agony and ecstasy of the playoffs was in full show at the final whistle as Bournemouth’s players sunk to their knees and interim head coach Jonathan Woodgate looked distraught.

Can Brentford finally reach the Premier League?

As for Brentford, their head coach Thomas Frank celebrated wildly on the sidelines as he and his players lapped up a celebratory lap of honor.

“What an atmosphere,” Frank said. “4,000? It sounded like 40,000!”

The Bees are heading back to Wembley, as they aim to go one step better than last season when they lost narrowly to Fulham and missed out on promotion to the Premier League.

It has seemed like Brentford have been ready for Premier League promotion for about four or five years now, and their analytical approach to recruitment from owner Matthew Benham has paid off massively.

From Ollie Watkins to Ezri Konsa and Said Benrahma to Neal Maupay, Brentford have developed great players and made huge profits on player sales to the Premier League, but they’ve come up short in the playoffs in two of the last six seasons.

Let’s see if Ivan Toney and Co. can make it third time lucky, and get past either Barnsley or Swansea City in the final at Wembley on May 29.

Which USMNT players can join Aaronson as European trophy winners?

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Christian Pulisic and Zack Steffen are USMNT players within 90 minutes of guaranteeing a UEFA Champions League winner from the United States, but are far from the only Yanks hunting late-season silverware in Europe.

Heck, both could be multiple trophy winners.

[ WSL: Man City goes top while Chelsea in UWCL ]

Steffen has a League Cup and is virtually assured a Premier League title with Man City, while Pulisic’s Chelsea is in the FA Cup Final in addition to the UCL semis.

So who could claim a big prize ahead of a big summer for Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT?

Italy

AS Roma’s Bryan Reynolds would need his side to produce a stunning reversal after going down 6-2 in the first leg of the Europa League semifinal versus Manchester United.

Juventus’ Weston McKennie will not win the scudetto, but he may still lift the Coppa Italia if The Old Lady can beat Napoli in a rematch of last season’s final.

France

Timothy Weah and Lille are in control of their Ligue 1 destiny, a point ahead of PSG with three matches left for each team. Lille plays Lens, Saint-Etienne, and Angers in its run-in.

Spain

Sergino Dest (and Konrad de la Fuente) of Barcelona could still claim La Liga honors despite a midweek stumble against Granada. The Catalan club has already claimed the Copa del Rey, and can pull ahead of Atletico Madrid in the La Liga title race with a win on Saturday, though Real Madrid lurks with tiebreaker advantage on its El Clasico rivals.

Austria

American manager Jesse Marsch is leaving for RB Leipzig after the season but has already repeated as Austrian Cup winner and is on pace for the Austrian Bundesliga crown. Brenden Aaronson scored in his first final and won his first cup at the weekend and is in line for the same league honors.

Germany

Giovanni Reyna and Borussia Dortmund will stage a German Cup Final with a guaranteed USMNT winner when it meets Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig on May 13.

Belgium

Club Brugge goalkeeper Ethan Horvath and his men won the regular season, earning a minimum of Europa League Conference qualification and starts the playoffs with a healthy edge on Mark McKenzie and Genk. McKenzie subbed into Genk’s Belgian Cup win over Standard Liege. Matt Miazga (Anderlecht) has an outside shot of catching both in the playoffs.

2.Bundesliga and Football League Championship

Julian Green has driven Greuther Furth into an automatic promotion spot, though much is unsettled in Germany’s second-tier. U.S. eligible teammate Timothy Tillman has also helped the club into second place. Bobby Wood is still with third-place Hamburg ahead of a move to Real Salt Lake in the summer, and he’s back on the pitch after a long cold spell.

Sebastian Soto has been listed to PL2 action for Norwich City, who is going up to the Premier League after winning the Championship.

Tottenham loanee Cameron Carter-Vickers and Bournemouth are in the promotion playoffs along with Orlando City loanee Daryl Dike and Barnsley.