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Sunderland, Rodwell cancel contract as player pursues MLS

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Well, here’s an MLS measuring stick for you.

Sunderland and Jack Rodwell have agreed to cancel the player’s contract ahead of a move to Major League Soccer, where 27-year-old ex-England national teamer will test his mettle on North American soil.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Rodwell has played for Everton, Man City, and Sunderland, though he appeared just twice for the Black Cats in the 2017-18 Championship season (which saw Sunderland relegated to League One).

The MLS transfer window opens July 10, but Rodwell will now be a free agent.

Who would benefit from a player like Rodwell, should he be fit and functional? Might he interest NYCFC, a sister club of his former pals Man City, or perhaps might he made a move to join Wayne Rooney (presumably) at DC United?

How he performs, should he sign somewhere in MLS, would be the latest litmus test for the league and its standing relative to the top few divisions in England.

Adama Diomande has four goals in four matches since coming to LAFC from Hull City, but Jordon Mutch hasn’t done much of anything in Vancouver. Adam Henley’s adjustment to Real Salt Lake has been slow, but Sporting KC’s Johnny Russell is one of WhoScored’s highest rated players on one of the league’s best teams.

Colorado has a pair of Championship transfers, with Jack Price faring better than Joe Mason though the club isn’t doing well at all.

Watch Live: Sunderland vs. Swansea City (Lineups and Live Stream)

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Bottom of the table Sunderland welcome Swansea City to the Stadium of Light on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via Live Extra) with the home side under plenty of pressure.

Dick Advocaat’s men have lost both of their opening games, conceding seven times, and are being written off as the early season favorites for relegation.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA EXTRA

The opposite can be said for Swansea, who are unbeaten after two games and Garry Monk’s side once again look steady at the back and dangerous in attack.

In team news Sunderland make three changes as John O’Shea, Jack Rodwell and Danny Graham come in. As for Swansea, they are unchanged from the team who beat Newcastle United last weekend.

LINEUPS

Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones, van Aanholt, O’Shea, Coates, Cattermole, Rodwell, M’Vila, Lens, Defoe, Graham. Subs: Brown, Larsson, Matthews, Giaccherini, Fletcher, Watmore, Mannone.

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor, Cork, Shelvey, Sigurdsson, Montero, Ayew, Gomis. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, Bartley, Britton, Dyer, Routledge, Eder

Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Sunderland

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Dick Advocaat is hoping familiarity will combine with a couple big purchases to help Sunderland avoid a relegation fight for the first time in a while.

[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]

The Black Cats have finished in the top half of the table just once since returning to the Premier League in 2007-08, and that season saw the club slip as low as 14th before finishing 8 points clear of the drop in a log jam table.

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club

So the hope this time around is that Advocaat can get a big season out of January transfer Jermain Defoe while helping Adam Johnson and Jack Rodwell to career years. He’ll also have big buy attacker Jeremain Lens and three defensive additions as on-loan Sebastian Coates is now a full-fledged Black Cat to go with new boys Younes Kaboul and Adam Matthews.

Best possible XI:

— Pantilimon —

— Jones — Kaboul — O’Shea — Van Aanholt —

— Larsson — Cattermole — Giaccherini —

— Johnson — Defoe — Lens —

Transfers In: Younes Kaboul ($5 million, Tottenham Hotspur), Jeremain Lens ($12 million, Dynamo Kyiv), Adam Matthews ($3 million, Celtic), Sebastian Coates ($6 million, Liverpool).

Transfers Out: El-Hadji Ba (Undisclosed, Charlton Athletic), Santiago Vergini (Loan, Getafe), Jordan Pickford (Loan, Preston North End).

Star player:
 Costel Pantilimon — It’s sexy to say Lens, but we haven’t seen him in a league this good from top to bottom, only in the Netherlands and Ukraine. You could easily argue that Pantilimon was the reason Sunderland stayed up last season, as the lanky former Manchester City man made big save after big save for the Black Cats.

Last season: 16th in the Premier League – Sunderland finished three point above the drop and, after drawing on Opening Day to place sixth, weren’t higher than the 11th they posted after two weeks. Stoke City bounced them from the League Cup after two rounds, and the Black Cats were bounced by Bradford in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Coach’s corner: Dick Advocaat was convinced to stick around for another year, and has better ingredients this time around. The former PSV, Rangers and Zenit Saint Petersburg boss has his work cut out for him, but his front line of Johnson, Defoe and Lens — with Fletcher available as a reinforcement is as good as the Black Cats have had in a while.

PST predicts: This will be another trying season for the Black Cats, who will struggle with the drop zone at points in the season before, as is usually the case, pulling out an escape.

Report: Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph set to sign for Manchester City

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Manchester City may be about to make their first signing of the summer. And it’s a big one.

Aston Villa captain Fabian Delph is closing in on a deal to the Citizens as BBC West Midlands are reporting that he failed to travel with Villa on their preseason training camp in Portugal and will sign for City in the next 24 hours.

[ MORE: United chase Muller, Cavani ]

Delph, 25, only signed a new long-term contract with Villa in January which was supposed to keep him at the club until 2019, but it has been reported that the England international has a release clause of just $13 million in that new deal.

If the move goes through then Delph will not only add steel to City’s central midfield but he is also a homegrown player under Premier League rules, which is a huge boost for Manuel Pellegrini’s side who struggling with that quota.

Delph’s potential move to City would be a hammer blow to Villa boss Tim Sherwood as the skipper was a key component in the Midlands club staving off relegation last season. The Leeds United academy product joined Villa in 2009 for an initial fee of $12 million and has scored eight goals in 128 games. 

Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland: Champion Blues come back to finish what they started at home

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With the Championship already sealed, Chelsea made sure their home fans got one more day to remember as a pair of goals from substitute Loic Remy helped complete a comeback against Sunderland at Stamford Bridge.

Didier Drogba had the game’s first chance in the third minute as Chelsea pressed hard early, but his shot from the right post skidded across the line without going over. The Blues had another chance 15 minutes in when Branislav Ivanovic went down in the area under a challenge from Seb Larsson but the referee waved away the penalty shouts.

The Blues were the better team until the 20-minute mark before Sunderland began to build into the game. They’d get the opener on 27 minutes as Steven Fletcher headed home a corner at the far post after sneaking away from John Terry.

[ RELATED: Final Premier League standings ]

The Blues gave Didier Drogba a sendoff as he was substituted after a half-hour, replaced by Diego Costa as the Chelsea team carried the Ivorian triumphantly off. The home side was level soon after, as Juan Cuadrado won a penalty as he touched past John O’Shea and was hauled down, with Costa netting the equalizer on 37 minutes, his 20th goal of the season.

Loic Remy, on for an injured Cuadrado just before halftime, nearly marked the beginning of the second half with a stunning individual goal, but he couldn’t complete his blistering 54th minute run with a finish on target.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The comeback would be complete with 20 minutes to go as a brilliant touch from Eden Hazard got him past Jack Rodwell and Sebastian Coastes, and he poked to Remy in acres of space in front of the 18-yard box. The Frenchman stroked the ball past Vito Mannone who got a very late break on the low shot.

[ RELATED: Premier League stats ]

Remy got his second and Chelsea’s third to seal things as Matic sent a cross through the box, and Remy finished it easily with confetti covering the ground. The game finished with another three points for Chelsea, giving them 87 to finish the season with a final eight-point lead. Sunderland finishes 16th with 38 points.

LINEUPS:

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel (Christensen 78′), Matic; Cuadrado (Remy 44′), Willian, Hazard; Drogba (Costa 30′).
Bench: Courtois, Filipe Luis, Christensen, Boga, Remy, D Costa, Solanke.

Goals: Costa 37′ (pen), Remy 70′, 88′

Sunderland: Mannone, Jones, van Aanholt, O’Shea, Coates, Larsson, Rodwell, Johnson (Giaccherini 75′), Fletcher, Wickham, Defoe.
Bench: Cattermole, Reveillere, Graham, Giaccherini, Vergini, Buckley, Pickford.

Goals: Fletcher 27′