Who will get promoted to the Premier League?
Photo by Rich Linley - CameraSport via Getty Images

Who will get promoted to the Premier League? Your Championship primer

Leave a comment

The Football League Championship returns on Saturday, as Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion look to keep hold of their automatic promotion places.

It won’t be easy.

[ MORE: Spurs-Man Utd recap | JPW’s 3 Things ]

Here is your guide to the final nine matchdays of the season for England’s second tier.

The top two

Marcelo Bielsa’s Peacocks and Slaven Bilic’s Baggies have 7- and 6-point cushions on third place with nine matches to go, a congested fixture list ready to tax the benches of all of the sides.

The playoff race

Third through sixth in the Championship will contest the playoffs for the third promotion spot to the Premier League.

Third-place Fulham will learn a lot about whether it’s in the race for automatic promotion or just a playoff probability within one week’s time. The Cottagers host fourth-place Brentford at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday and go to Leeds one week later.

Fulham has 64 points, six back of second place and nine clear of seventh place. It would be very surprising if the Londoners didn’t keep hold of a playoff spot.

Brentford (60) and Nottingham Forest (60) have five-point advantages on seventh, nice but not too comfortable, while Preston North End’s one-point-above-sixth-place footing is uneven.

Six teams are within two wins of Preston’s 56 points. Seventh-place Bristol City has 55, Millwall and Cardiff City have 54, Blackburn and Swansea City have 53, Derby County has 51, and QPR’s on 50.

Who will get promoted to the Premier League?
Rooney’s Rams are six points behind the playoff places (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Americans Abroad

Speaking of QPR, USMNT veteran Geoff Cameron is a fixture for Mark Warburton’s London side. The 34-year-old has played 28 times this season.

Derby County has seen a fine season out of Duane Holmes, who has three goals and three assists. Not American, but ex-DC United man Wayne Rooney is Holmes’ teammate.

No American has played more Championship minutes than Fulham’s Tim Ream (3142). Next up are Wigan’s Antonee Robinson (2587) and Hull City’s Eric Lichaj (2546).

Matt Miazga is handling center back duties for Reading, while Cameron Carter-Vickers’ latest loan stint at Luton Town has gone well individually.

Luca De La Torre (Fulham) has seen neglible minutes this season.

English-born MLS and NCAA star Jack Harrison is with Leeds.

Manchester United academy product Jack Harrison of Leeds United went to school at Wake Forest before playing for NYCFC in Major League Soccer (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images).

The relegation scrap

Three clubs will go down to League One next season. Two of the three teams in the bottom three will need a massive change in fortunes to avoid that fate.

Barnsley is seven points back of 21st and Luton Town sits six points back of safety.

Charlton Athletic is currently in 22nd with 39 points, but it can look to a single win as chance to move ahead of any of the five sides ahead of it (depending on how goal differential goes).

Hull City, Wigan Athletic, and Middlesbrough are just two points above the drop zone, while Stoke City and Huddersfield Town have three-point distances above the drop.

Charlton can pass Hull with a win at the KC Stadium on Saturday, though it’s only other chance to affect a fellow struggler is July 18 versus Wigan.

This week’s schedule

Fulham v. Brentford — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday
Middlesbrough v. Swansea City — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday
Millwall v. Derby County — 8 a.m. ET Saturday
West Brom v. Birmingham City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Huddersfield Town v. Wigan Athletic — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Hull City v. Charlton Athletic — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Sheffield Wednesday v. Nottingham Forest — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Luton Town v. Preston North End –10 a.m. ET Saturday
QPR v. Barnsley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Reading v. Stoke City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Blackburn Rovers v. Bristol City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Cardiff City v. Leeds United — 7 a.m. ET Sunday

Wayne Rooney scores first Derby County goal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wayne Rooney is back playing in England, and he’s back on the scoresheet as well.

The 34-year-old bagged his first goal since joining Derby County from D.C. United – thanks in large part to a massive deflection – as the Rams fell 3-2 with Luton Town in Championship play.

The goal comes in Rooney’s fourth appearance for Derby County since joining this winter, having played the full 90 minutes in the previous three showings without finding the back of the net.

Just past the hour mark, with the game still scoreless, Rooney got a lateral pass from American midfielder Duane Holmes right outside the top of the penalty area. Rooney hit the ball first time, firing an effort that smacked the left knee of substitute defender Donervon Daniels and redirected perfectly into the top-right corner.

The game featured an insane finish, with Luton Town coming back to take a 2-1 lead. Derby County drew level with an 85th minute goal from Chris Martin, but Jayden Bogle – who assisted Martin’s equalizer with a fabulous cross only moments earlier – saw an own-goal give Luton the lead for good just a minute later.

Rooney has worn the captain’s armband in all four appearances for Derby County. The Rams are a disappointing 16th in the league table, having challenged for promotion the last few years, culminating in a brutal late defeat at Wembley in the playoff final last season.

Stoppage time equalizer for American midfielder Duane Holmes

Duane Holmes scores for Derby County
Photo by Richard Sellers/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Derby County stayed unbeaten with Wayne Rooney on the pitch thanks to a last minute goal from an American playmaker.

Duane Holmes hit a beautiful volley in the first minute of stoppage time to give the Rams a point away to Middlesbrough on Saturday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It was the American’s first goal of the season and third in 56 appearances for the Rams. Holmes earned his first two USMNT caps this summer.

The 25-year-old has been an every week starter for Philip Cocu dating back to mid-October.

Rooney went 90 minutes as Derby is 17th with 34 points, eight back of the promotion playoff picture.

Back to Holmes, he admitted that the goal was lucky; He swung his peg but it struck his shin pad to fool the goalkeeper.

Report: Wayne Rooney holding talks to join Derby County as player-coach

Getty Images
3 Comments

According to a report by James Ducker of The Telegraph, D.C. United striker Wayne Rooney is in talks with Derby County about a return to English football as a player-coach for the Championship club.

Derby County signed former Barcelona player Phillip Cocu as manager on a four-year contract in the wake of Frank Lampard‘s departure, and the club may look to capitalize on Rooney’s solid Major League Soccer form by bringing him on as a player while also getting his feet wet in the coaching ranks.

According to the report, Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford has already met with the club and plans to continue talks in the coming days. Yesterday the Sun had reported that Rooney was thinking about a possible return to Manchester United in a coaching role alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but this would see him able to continue his playing while also learning the coaching ropes. He has two years remaining on his D.C. United contract that runs through December of 2021.

Rooney looked behind the pace during his final Premier League season with Everton in 2017/18, but he joined D.C. United that summer and has seen somewhat of a revival. During his time in MLS, Rooney has scored 23 goals in 44 matches while dotting the highlight reel with spectacular strikes including one from the midway line.

It’s possible that Derby believes Rooney has something to offer on the pitch while also beginning his coaching career, serving as an asset on the field while also potentially learning to follow-up Cocu should he not impress or be lured away after a period of success. For time on the field, Rooney would compete with 29-year-old opening day starter Martyn Waghorn, 30-year-old Championship veteran Chris Martin, and 24-year-old Jack Marriott for time at the striker position.

Derby signed Lampard to his first managerial job back in May of last year, and it was a smashing success, with Derby reaching the Championship playoff final before losing to Aston Villa to agonizingly miss out on Premier League promotion. Lampard left after just the one year to serve as manager of Chelsea, and now Derby owner Mel Morris could be looking to add yet another high profile former England star.

Fan arrested after American player Holmes racially-abused in England

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A man has been arrested for racially abusing American midfielder Duane Holmes during a Football League Championship match on Sunday.

The incident occurs as a high-profile time for racism in soccer, which has seen Moise Kean and Raheem Sterling racially abused during matches in recent weeks.

[ MORE: Robben looking at MLS ]

Holmes, 24, is having a terrific year for Frank Lampard at Derby County following his arrival from Scunthorpe United. The diminutive right midfielder, who also plays centrally, is starting regularly and had a goal and an assist last week against Rotherham United.

Saturday at Brentford was a different story, as Holmes was targeted by a Bees season ticket holder after subbing off the pitch.

Here’s Derby manager Frank Lampard, from the BBC:

“Duane Holmes complained that he was racially abused – I didn’t see it, I was facing play and a fan came up to him at the side of the dugout and abused him,” he told Sky Sports.

“Because it’s such an important issue I don’t want to go beyond what I know, but it was very clearly reported by the players and the people around.”

The arrest shows that Lampard’s comments were backed by authorities.

Holmes, for his part, retweeted a supporter’s message backing “Kick It Out,” which aims to eradicate racism from the game.