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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.

American owner Short writes off Sunderland debt, sells club

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Turn and face the strain, ch-ch-changes.

Relegated in consecutive seasons, troubled club Sunderland announced the departure of manager Chris Coleman on Sunday.

[ MORE: Celtic clinches crown vs. Rangers ]

Minutes later, it announced a change in ownership, hopefully solving a club crisis.

Embattled American owner Ellis Short is leaving the Northeast England club now headed to League One on the heels of a 20th place finish in the Football League Championship.

Short has sold the team to Stewart Donald, and says he has paid off the debts of the club while rejecting higher paying offers in favor of the best one for the direction of Sunderland.

For all the rough times and damage done to the club, those are class gestures. Here is Short’s statement, via the Sunderland site:

“It is no secret that I have been trying to sell Sunderland, but I have waited until the right group came along that have the experience, finances and plan to take this great club back to where it deserves to be.

“Overall, my chairmanship has not gone the way I would have wished; the many high points of a decade in the Premier League have been overshadowed by the low points of the last two terrible seasons. I was therefore determined to ensure that I leave Sunderland in the best possible hands and in the best possible state to turn the corner. To achieve this, higher offers from less qualified buyers were rejected, and I have paid off all debts owed by the club to leave it financially strong and debt free for the first time since years before I owned it.”

“Assuming that Stewart and his group win EFL approval, it only remains for me to wish them, and all associated with the club, the very best for the future. I will be a Sunderland fan for life, and hope to return as a fan to watch them climb back to where they belong.”

Donald will be the new owner, once approved by the English Football League, and will relinquish control of the current club he owns: Eastleigh FC. The Chronicle says he also has a stake in Oxford United of League One.

Donald has experience with righting a debt-ridden ship, having done the trick at Eastleigh. He hopes that serves him well:

“Eastleigh and Oxford are different cases to each other and, of course, smaller than Sunderland. The similarity, though, is that there is also a lot that needs to be addressed here, and it needs to be addressed with realism, focus and dedication. For a club with one of the best fanbases, stadium and academies in the UK to find itself in League One is unacceptable.

“We have a carefully thought-through plan to restructure the club, make it sustainable and, with the help of the fans, to restore its sense of pride and re-connect it with the local community. In short, we are rolling our sleeves up to do what needs to be done to ready this club to start competing again.”

Good luck to Sunderland. It’s been a brutal run, as it was just two years ago fans were flying banners over Newcastle’s stadium when the rivals were relegated.

PL promotion update: Fulham comes from behind to win, pile pressure on Cardiff

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Back and forth we go at the top of the Championship table.

With Wolves already confirmed as the title winners to grab the first of three promotion spots, the second automatic bid is being hotly contested down the stretch.

Cardiff City and Fulham have gone back and forth over the last two weeks, and once again the Whites have piled on the pressure. Fulham stretched its unbeaten streak to a club record 23 games, coming from behind to top basement dwelling Sunderland 2-1 moving them back into second place, two points ahead of Cardiff.

Fulham didn’t look its usual self early on, and Sunderland capitalized to pull ahead in the first half via route one a half-hour in. Sunderland goalkeeper Jason Steele booted a long ball forward that came to 18-year-old birthday boy Joel Asoro who squeaked his effort past Marcus Bettinelli. The goal marked the first time that Fulham had trailed since a 3-1 victory over Barnsley on January 27th.

Sunderland – the last team to beat Fulham in Championship play way back on December 16th – couldn’t hang on as their misery continues. Chelsea loanee Lucas Piazon leveled things up just before halftime as Ryan Fredericks scorched one across the face of goal past Steele, and Piazon spiked it in to equalize. Aleksandar Mitrovic then bagged the winner in the 76th minute when he headed home a free-kick for his 12th goal since joining Fulham in January. The only drawback was an early injury to Southampton loanee Matt Targett, who has been spectacular since joining in January as well.

Cardiff City still controls its own destiny down by two points with a game in hand, but the Bluebirds have stumbled of late. They wasted their game in hand last time out, falling to Derby County 3-1 on Tuesday to let Fulham back in the mix. The loss was the third in their last five games for Neil Warnock’s side, and they now take on a Hull City squad that has lost just once in its last six matches, playing to a wild 5-5 draw with Bristol City its last time out.

Fulham’s final match of the regular season comes next Sunday at Birmingham City, while Cardiff City finishes things out at home against Reading.

Sunderland relegated for second-straight season

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It’s one-and-done for Sunderland in the Championship, though not in the way expected by most  supporters of the Black Cats.

[ RECAP: WBA 2-2 Liverpool ]

Relegated from the Premier League under David Moyes‘ guidance last season, Sunderland lost Saturday to leave them six points back of safety with two to play.

But either Burton Albion or Bolton will get at least a point from a match against each other, meaning Sunderland would need at least seven when all is said and done.

  • Twenty-one clubs have been relegated since the start of the 2010-11 season.
  • Six have sunk as low as League One (including Sunderland)
  • Seven returned to the Premier League (including Wolves for 18-19)
  • Ten are currently in the Championship

It’s a message to all Premier League sides expecting favorite status in the Championship, including likely relegation side West Bromwich Albion.

Here’s how the most recent sides have fared since dropping out of the top flight.

Relegated sides this decade, and current status
*club still alive for 2018-19 promotion to Premier League
#club could be relegated from current league

Hull City (2016-17) — Championship
Middlesbrough (2016-17) — Championship*
Sunderland (2016-17) — Relegated to League One
Newcastle United (2015-16) — Returned to PL in one season
Norwich City (2015-16) — Championship
Aston Villa (2015-16) — Championship*
Hull City (2014-15) — Promoted at first chance, then relegated last season
Burnley (2014-15) — Promoted at first chance
Queens Park Rangers (2014-15) — Championship
Norwich City (2013-14) — Has since been promoted, relegated back to Championship
Fulham (2013-14) — Championship*
Cardiff City (2013-14) — Championship*
Wigan Athletic (2012-13) — promoted to Championship for 2018-19
Reading (2012-13) — Championship#
Queens Park Rangers (2012-13) — Since promoted, relegated back to Championship
Bolton (2011-12) — Championship#
Blackburn (2011-12) — League One*
Wolves (2011-12) — Promoted to Premier League this season
Birmingham City (2010-11) — Championship#
Blackpool (2010-11) — League One
West Ham United (2010-11) — Promoted at first chance, still PL

Reports: Chris Coleman steps down with Wales to accept Sunderland job

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Chris Coleman has been a hot name in the managerial game after making noise with Wales at the 2016 EURO Championships.

[ MORE: Man United looks to rebound against Newcastle ]

It appears the 47-year-old is about to embark on a new adventure though, with several reports indicating that Coleman will take over at Sunderland, who currently plays in the English Championship.

The Welsh FA revealed the following statement on Friday:

“We are extremely disappointed to see Chris’ tenure as Wales manager come to an end,” said Chief Executive Jonathan Ford.

“The FAW and Wales as a nation will be eternally grateful for the job he has done over the last six years as National Team Manager, from travelling the length and breadth of Wales outside of the media spotlight to talk to players and supporters, to guiding us to the semi-finals of the European Championships.

“We wish Chris the very best of luck for the future as he returns to club management, a desire for which he has always been honest and open about.”

The Black Cats currently sit dead last (24th place) in England’s second flight on 10 points through its opening 16 matches.

Sunderland finished the 2016/17 season at the bottom of the Premier League table, before being relegated ahead of the current campaign.

[ MORE: Pogba, Ibrahimovic, Rojo could return this weekend for Man United ]

Coleman helped guide the Welsh to the semifinals at EURO 2016, where his side fell to eventual champions Portugal. The Welsh had never previously qualified for the European Championships and hasn’t reached the World Cup since 1958.