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NISA seeks new leadership as Wilt leaves to start USL D3 club

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Peter Wilt is leaving his gig as founding hero of upstart pro/rel league NISA to bring a USL D3 side to Wisconsin.

[ MORE: PST’s PL Best XI ]

Big Top Events announced the hiring of Wilt on Thursday, and the executive is leading a drive to name the club for Madison Pro Soccer.

NISA, the North American Soccer League who widely advocated promotion and relegation but has hit some bumps along the way, now seeks a new leader. The organization announced a committee of club owners will lead a search.

“I wish the NISA teams and new leadership well,” Wilt said. “I am proud of the strong vision we developed and now others will need to carry it forward. I am hopeful that my stepping away will allow the disparate open system groups to unify around a shared vision.”

Wilt, who has launched five professional soccer teams in the closed system is returning to his roots the United Soccer Leagues. He will lead Madison Pro Soccer as Managing Director of Big Top Events’ soccer division. Previously, Wilt served as President, General Manager and part owner of the USISL (now USL) Minnesota Thunder. He has also launched USL’s Indy Eleven, NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars and MLS’ Chicago Fire.

NISA announced eight markets in August but has yet to announce a start date. It’s an intriguing idea, but — for better or worse — could undertake some monumental changes without Wilt in the driver’s seat.

As for Madison, Wilt knows what he’s doing when it comes to starting a club, so this is a solid get for the city.

Wolfsburg beats Kiel 3-1 to boost Bundesliga survival hopes (video)

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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) Wolfsburg took a big step toward Bundesliga survival with a 3-1 win over visiting Holstein Kiel in the first leg of a relegation/promotion playoff on Thursday.

Goals from Divock Origi and Josip Brekalo in the first half and another from Yunus Malli in the second put Wolfsburg in a good position ahead of the second leg in Kiel on Monday.

Kingsley Schindler had briefly pulled the visitors level.

[ MORE: France’s loaded World Cup squad]

Kiel had a late penalty appeal when Rafael Czichos, the captain, appeared to be shoved by counterpart Maximilian Arnold, but referee Deniz Aytekin allowed play to continue and there was no intervention from the video referee.

Wolfsburg, which finished third from bottom in the Bundesliga, is playing in its second playoff in as many years. The Volkswagen-backed club defeated Eintracht Braunschweig to stay up last year.

Kiel, the third-place finisher in its first appearance in the second tier since 1981, is bidding to reach the Bundesliga for the first time to cap a remarkable ascent. The northern city club was promoted from the third division last season and from the fourth tier four seasons before that.

Aston Villa holds off Boro, moves onto playoff final

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Playoff finals are old hat for Steve Bruce, but a new event for Aston Villa.

The Birmingham club beat Middlesbrough 1-0 over two legs, the second a 0-0 draw at Villa Park on Tuesday, to advance to meet Fulham in the Championship Playoff final at Wembley Stadium on May 26.

Stewart Downing‘s 89th minute free kick off the cross bar was Boro’s only sniff of the goal.

[ MORE: The season of Salah ]

Villa is in just its third season outside of the English top flight since 1975, though Bruce managed Hull City and Birmingham City to the Premier League through the playoffs.

Boro scored plenty under Tony Pulis in the season, but it was a case of traditional Pulis stats in the playoffs. The notoriously stingy manager saw his side manage just two shots on target over two legs, with both coming in the home leg.

Lewis Grabban of Villa had the two best scoring chances of the match, but Darren Randolph made a pair of saves.

Villa won the first leg on a Jack Grealish to Mile Jedinak goal.

On Monday, Fulham flipped a first leg deficit to Derby County on its ear to clinch its space at Wembley.

Who can finish where on the table on Championship Sunday?

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The Premier League has one match day left, with 10 matches on 10 different NBC family stations beginning at 10 a.m. ET Sunday.

[ MORE: Championship Sunday TV schedule ]

We know Man City and Man Utd will finish first and second, but only two other table positions (sixth and seventh) are locked in place.

Bold teams are locked into their table positions.

1. Manchester City (97 pts, at Southampton)
2. Manchester United (78 pts, vs. Watford)

3. Tottenham Hotspur (74 pts, +37 GD, vs. Leicester)
Highest potential finish: 3rd
Lowest potential finish: 4th

4. Liverpool (72 pts, +42 GD, vs. Brighton)
Highest potential finish: 3rd
Lowest potential finish: 5th

5. Chelsea (70 pts, +27 GD, at Newcastle)
Highest potential finish: 4th
Lowest potential finish:

6. Arsenal (60 pts, at Huddersfield Town)
7. Burnley (54 pts, vs. Bournemouth)

8. Everton (49 pts, -12 GD, at West Ham United)
Highest potential finish: 8th
Lowest potential finish: 9th

9. Leicester City (47 pts, -3 GD, at Spurs)
Highest potential finish: 8th
Lowest potential finish: 9th

10. Newcastle United (41 pts, -11 GD, vs. Chelsea)
Highest potential finish: 10th
Lowest potential finish: 15th

11. Crystal Palace (41 pts, -12 GD, vs. West Brom)
Highest potential finish: 10th
Lowest potential finish: 15th

12. Bournemouth (41 pts, -17 GD, at Burnley)
Highest potential finish: 10th
Lowest potential finish: 15th

13. Watford (41 pts, -19 GD, at Man Utd)
Highest potential finish: 10th
Lowest potential finish: 15th

14. Brighton and Hove Albion (40 pts, -16 GD, at Liverpool)
Highest potential finish:10th
Lowest potential finish: 16th

15. West Ham United (39 pts, -22 GD, vs. Everton)
Highest potential finish: 10th
Lowest potential finish:17th

16. Huddersfield Town (37 pts, -29 GD, vs. Arsenal)
Highest (realistic) potential finish: 15th
Lowest potential finish: 17th

17. Southampton (36 pts, -18 GD, vs. Man City)
Highest potential finish: 15th
Lowest potential finish: 18th

18. Swansea City (33 pts, -27 GD, vs. Stoke City)
Highest potential finish: 17th
Lowest potential finish: 20th

19. West Bromwich Albion (31 pts, -23 GD, at Crystal Palace)
Highest potential finish: 18th
Lowest potential finish: 20th

20. Stoke City (30 pts, -34 GD, at Swansea)
Highest potential finish: 18th
Lowest potential finish: 20th

Relegation permutations heading into Championship Sunday

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Need a road map to the remaining relegation spot on the Premier League table? We’ve got you covered as to who will join West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City in the Championship next season.

[ RECAP: Swans 0-1 Saints ]

In terms of safety, Huddersfield Town can guarantee a spot in the PL with a point or more from either of its two remaining matches, while Southampton can clinch its place with a point on Sunday versus Manchester City.

[ MORE: Hughes reacts | Carvalhal, too ]

Swansea, however, needs a lot of help from both its rivals to move from 18th to safety.

Swansea City will be relegated if…

— It fails to defeat visiting Stoke City on Sunday.

or

— It wins against Stoke City but Huddersfield Town gets a point or more from either of its remaining matches (Wednesday at Chelsea and Sunday versus Arsenal)

and

Southampton doesn’t lose to Man City — or — loses to Man City without a change in goal differential (Swans’ differential is nine goals worse than Saints).

Huddersfield Town will be relegated if…

— It loses at Chelsea on Wednesday and home to Arsenal on Sunday.

and

— Swansea beats Stoke City on Sunday

and

— Southampton draws or beats Manchester City on Sunday — or — Southampton loses to Manchester City by a wild amount of goals (The goal differential currently favors Saints by 11, and this scenarios sees Huddersfield’s goal differential take at least a two-goal hit).

Southampton will be relegated if…

— It loses at home to Manchester City

and

— Huddersfield Town draws or beats Chelsea on Wednesday or Arsenal on Sunday

and

— Swansea City beats Stoke City and its margin of victory combined with Southampton’s losing margin against Man City overcomes nine goals worth of differential.