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McKennie on Pulisic: ‘He’ll be great for Chelsea’

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Weston McKennie is expecting big things from his USMNT teammate and close friend Christian Pulisic in the Premier League.

No pressure then…

The duo have played together throughout the U.S. youth national teams and in recent years have locked horns in the Bundesliga for German giants, and fierce rivals, Schalke and Borussia Dortmund.

Pulisic has one more game left for Dortmund — who he rejoined on loan for the rest of this season after his $73 million transfer to Chelsea in January — and he’s scored in each of his last two Bundesliga games to give them a chance of winning the title on the final day (they trail leaders Bayern Munich by two points).

What a perfect way that would be to end his five-year stay at the Westfalenstadion.

Speaking to our partners at Sky Sports, McKennie has high hopes for Pulisic once he arrives at Chelsea after his

“Christian is the type of player who likes a challenge and likes to experience new things as well,” McKennie said. “I think he’ll be a great signing for Chelsea. He may not get it right away, he may get in and play you never know, but I think he’ll be helpful for them in any way that they use him. I’m excited for him and I know he’s excited to start that next chapter of his career and make an even bigger name for himself.”

Fans of the USMNT are looking forward to having their superstar playmaker pit his wits against the Premier League’s best week in week out, and Pulisic will be eager to hit the ground running after a stop-start 2018-19 season for club and country as injuries stalled his progress.

Pulisic may miss some of Chelsea’s preseason due to his expected involvement for the USMNT at the Gold Cup this summer, but he is likely to cut short any summer break to set the tone for what he hopes is a very successful career at Chelsea.

With Eden Hazard on his way out, Pulisic will be expected to help pick up the slack and lead Chelsea in the PL and UEFA Champions League next season and beyond.

An incredible challenge awaits the Pennsylvania native.

Schalke appoint former Huddersfield boss David Wagner

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GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) Schalke is bringing former United States international David Wagner back to the Bundesliga as coach.

[ MORE: Tottenham pull off second amazing UCL comeback in two days ]

The club says the 47-year-old Wagner, who previously coached Huddersfield in England’s Premier League, has signed a three-year contract through June 2022.

Wagner will inherit a side low on confidence after a lackluster season in which it only avoided Bundesliga relegation with a goalless draw against Augsburg last weekend. Schalke, which finished runner-up last season, hasn’t had a worse season since it was relegated in 1982-83.

The club fired Domenico Tedesco as coach following a 7-0 loss to Manchester City in the Champions League and turned to former coach Huub Stevens as an interim solution for the last eight games of the Bundesliga.

As a player, Wagner won the UEFA Cup with Schalke in 1997. He previously played for Mainz.

[ MORE: Tearful Pochettino hails Spurs “heroes” after another UCL comeback ]

Wagner’s coaching career began when he took charge of Schalke rival Borussia Dortmund’s second team in 2011, helped by friend and former Mainz teammate Jurgen Klopp. He was appointed Huddersfield coach in November 2015 and led the side to promotion in 2017.

Wagner performed a minor miracle by keeping Huddersfield in the Premier League the following season, but Wagner and the club agreed to part ways in January with the team last and eight points from safety with 16 games remaining.

Wagner, a former forward, made eight appearances for the United States.

Wagner or not, Schalke’s next manager hire big for USMNT

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Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie may get a manager who’s represented his same national team.

Former USMNT striker David Wagner is reportedly in “very advanced” talks to take the helm of the Bundesliga outfit.

[ MORE UCL: Spurs-Ajax recap | Eriksen reacts ]

Wagner, 47, was the Borussia Dortmund II manager before taking the job at Huddersfield Town and guiding the Terriers to the Premier League, but left the club in January en route to relegation.

Now with Schalke having dodged relegation and beaten rivals Borussia Dortmund this weekend under interim boss Huub Stevens, who himself has led the club on two other occasions.

The German-born Wagner won the UEFA Cup during a short stint as a player at Schalke, and was capped eight times by the United States.

But the move, whether Wagner or not, is significant for American soccer.

McKennie doesn’t turn 21 until the start of next season, and already boasts 44 Bundesliga appearances, a half-dozen Champions League matches, and six more German Cup slots.

He’s played in every central midfield position, as well as right back, right mid, and even a little center back and center forward. McKennie is one of the most industrious and experienced young players in USMNT history, but how much of his experience at the club level will even matter to Gregg Berhalter?

I mean, look at his positional usage at Schalke this season via Transfermarkt (right).

This could also become a David Alaba situation. The Austrian has played the majority of his Bayern Munich career as a left back, and then a center back. Yet the 26-year-old has only recently made the move to left mid or left back for Das Team, having been a center midfielder in World Cups and EURO tournaments.

So perhaps Wagner takes over at Schalke, and slots McKennie at right back. Does Berhalter think at all about whether Tyler Adams should go into the middle role and McKennie play a more natural right back? Or does Berhalter say Adams is his right back and McKennie a center mid, end of story?

Also, Wagner was a Danny Williams fan, so perhaps he’d consider the option of an All-American midfield with McKennie and Williams. Half-kidding aside, Schalke’s next manager and their intention for McKennie will be one of the more intriguing and important moves for the future of the U.S. midfield.

Reports: David Wagner set to take over Schalke

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According to reports by German publication Bild and Sky Sports in England, former Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner is the leading candidate to take over at Bundesliga side Schalke, with Sky reporting the two parties are “in advanced talks.”

The move represents a significant step up despite being fired at Huddersfield Town in January with the club in an ultimately unrecoverable position in the Premier League table, now guaranteed to finish bottom of the league sitting on just 14 points with two matches remaining.

Wagner has history at the German club, having spent two seasons at Schalke from 1995-1997 and serving as an unused substitute in the 1997 UEFA Cup final which Schalke emerged victorious.

The 47-year-old former United States international had made a name for himself at Huddersfield Town, earning promotion to the Premier League for the first time in club history in 2017 before keeping the team afloat in its first top-flight campaign against significant odds. This season was one too many, however, and the club sent him packing in a last-ditch effort to turn things around, although new boss Jan Siewart has been unable to do so.

The position at Schalke is open after Domenico Tedesco was dismissed in March with the club in a surprising relegation battle. A season ago, Tedesco was lauded with the club finishing second in the table, but they have struggled mightily for consistency this season. They suffered through a horrible run in early 2019 that produced just two points over eight Bundesliga matches, a run which saw Tedesco eventually dismissed. Interim boss Huub Stevens has recovered things somewhat, topping Borussia Dortmund last time out to jump six points clear of the relegation zone with three matches to go.

According to the reports, current Borussia Monchengladbach manager Dieter Hecking is another candidate to take over at Schalke, but the club at this point prefers the unemployed Wagner.

Bundesliga wrap: Schalke smacks Dortmund, RB Leipzig wraps up third

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After 15 weeks of the Bundesliga season, Borussia Dortmund had a surprising nine-point lead on perennial winners Bayern Munich.

On Sunday, BVB could trail that same Bayern side by four with three matches to play if the Bavarians do as expected and defeat 17th place Nurnberg.

[ RECAP: Watford 1-2 Wolves ]

Make no mistake: This is a notable collapse, and it now includes a 9-man home loss to one of BVB’s fiercest rivals on top of the smashing at the hands of Bayern in Der Klassiker. The latest loss also happens to let said rivals, Schalke, off the hook for a possible relegation playoff date.

Borussia Dortmund 2-4 Schalke

Dortmund went to Gelsenkirchen earlier this season and scored a 2-1 Revierderby win, but the tables were turned in a big way on Saturday.

Lucien Favre’s men lost for the third time in eight matches to extend a four-month slide which has seen BVB take 30 of 48 points while Bayern has dropped exactly four in the same period of time.

American winger Christian Pulisic came off the bench with 12 minutes left and BVB already down to nine men, while his USMNT pal Weston McKennie had an okay day in the middle of the park for Schalke. McKennie was credited with 10 tackles over 72 minutes.

This one started well enough, with Mario Gotze briefly putting the hosts back atop the table in the 14th minute. Schalke, however used a pair of Daniel Caligiuri goals and a Salif Sane marker to build a 3-1 lead.

Marco Reus was sent off with the score 2-1, and Marius Wolf saw red five minutes later, just after Schalke went ahead by two.

Axel Witsel pulled BVB back to within one in the 84th minute, but Breel Embolo’s goal two minutes later put the result away for Dortmund.

RB Leipzig 2-1 Freiburg

Timo Werner scored his fourth goal in his last six league games, and Emil Forsberg converted a late penalty as RBL firmed up third place in the Bundesliga.

Elsewhere
Augsburg 1-4 Bayer Leverkusen — Friday
Stuttgart 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach
Fortuna Dusseldorf 4-1 Werder Bremen
Hannover 96 1-0 Mainz
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-0 Hertha Berlin
Hoffenheim v. Wolfsburg — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Nurnberg v. Bayern Munich — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 30 22 4 4 79 29 50 11-3-1 11-1-3 70
 Borussia Dortmund 31 21 6 4 74 40 34 13-2-1 8-4-3 69
 RB Leipzig 31 19 7 5 59 24 35 10-5-1 9-2-4 64
 Eintracht Frankfurt 31 15 9 7 58 35 23 8-4-4 7-5-3 54
 Mönchengladbach 31 15 6 10 49 38 11 9-2-4 6-4-6 51
 Bayer Leverkusen 31 16 3 12 57 49 8 8-1-6 8-2-6 51
 1899 Hoffenheim 30 13 11 6 65 41 24 7-5-3 6-6-3 50
 Werder Bremen 31 12 10 9 53 46 7 7-5-3 5-5-6 46
 VfL Wolfsburg 30 13 7 10 48 45 3 6-5-4 7-2-6 46
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 31 12 4 15 44 60 -16 8-0-8 4-4-7 40
 Hertha BSC Berlin 31 9 10 12 41 48 -7 5-6-4 4-4-8 37
 FSV Mainz 05 31 10 6 15 37 52 -15 7-4-4 3-2-11 36
 SC Freiburg 31 7 11 13 40 56 -16 5-6-4 2-5-9 32
 FC Augsburg 31 8 7 16 47 59 -12 5-4-7 3-3-9 31
 FC Schalke 04 31 8 6 17 36 54 -18 4-1-10 4-5-7 30
 VfB Stuttgart 31 6 6 19 28 67 -39 5-4-7 1-2-12 24
 1. FC Nürnberg 30 3 9 18 24 56 -32 3-6-6 0-3-12 18
 Hannover 96 31 4 6 21 26 66 -40 4-1-11 0-5-10 18