Championship recaps
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Championship focus: Playoff picture further congested; 4 Americans start

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A draw-heavy return to Championship football added to the intrigue around a cluttered playoff picture.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Second-place West Brom drew against Birmingham City but still holds a seven-point lead on the chasing pack thanks to dropped points by many top-half teams.

Leaders Leeds United restarts its season on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]


Playoff picture gets even more congested

Three sides picked up big wins on day with lots of draws, as Blackburn Rovers and Swansea City rode comfortable wins to within a point of sixth-place Preston North End.

Derby County beat Millwall to join the Lions on 54 points, three points back of the top six.


Relegation watch

Charlton Athletic spent the entire coronavirus pause in the bottom three and promptly exited by sending Hull City into the bottom three with a 1-0 win at the KC Stadium.

Last-place Barnsley moved into 23rd after beating QPR while Luton Town is now last but within five points of safety after a draw with sixth-place PNE.

There are now only three points separating 17th place Wigan from 22nd place Hull City in the final relegation place.


Americans Abroad

  • Fulham’s Tim Ream went 90 minutes with four clearances, two tackles, and 90 percent passing at left center back in a 2-0 loss to Brentford.
  • Antonee Robinson was back in the lineup and went 86 minutes as the Latics moved four points clear of the drop zone with a big 6-pointer win over Huddersfield Town. He won 5-of-8 duels, made five clearances, two interceptions, three tackles, and a blocked shot.
  • Duane Holmes left Derby County’s 3-2 win after 62 minutes at right wing. He registered one key pass amongst his 82 percent completion percentage.
  • Spurs loanee Cameron Carter-Vickers was the top-rated player on both SofaScore and WhoScored as Luton Town drew Preston. CCV was credited with a monstrous 13 clearances, three tackles, a blocked shot, an interception, and 10 of 13 duels won. He also passed at 76 percent, completing 3-of-8. long balls, and even completed a dribble.
  • Chelsea loanee Matt Miazga missed Reading’s draw with Stoke City thanks to a minor hamstring injury (Berkshire Live).
  • Geoff Cameron was suspended for QPR’s home loss to Barnsley but he’ll be around; QPR recently triggered a one-year contract extension with the soon-to-be 35-year-old USMNT vet.
  • Hull City’s Eric Lichaj is no longer Hull City’s Eric Lichaj. He won’t play again for the Tigers due to being out-of-contract.


Scoreboard

Fulham 0-2 Brentford
Middlesbrough 0-3 Swansea City
Millwall 2-3 Derby County
West Brom 0-0 Birmingham City
Huddersfield Town 0-2 Wigan Athletic
Hull City 0-1 Charlton Athletic
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Nottingham Forest
Luton Town 1-1 Preston North End
QPR 0-1 Barnsley
Reading 1-1 Stoke City
Blackburn Rovers 3-1 Bristol City
Cardiff City v. Leeds United — 7 a.m. ET Sunday

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

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

Man Utd friendly canceled after Stoke manager’s positive coronavirus test

Manchester United friendly canceled
Photo by Barrington Coombs/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images
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Manchester United’s preparation for the Premier League season took an odd turn on Tuesday.

The Red Devils were scheduled to face Championship side Stoke City in a friendly, but did not play the Potters on the pitch following a positive coronavirus test from the visitors.

[ MORE: New PL schedule ]

Stoke’s players arrived to United’s Carrington base on Tuesday but never got the chance to play after Potters boss Michael O’Neill, the former Northern Ireland boss, tested positive for COVID-19.

From The Manchester Evening News:

Stoke immediately informed United’s medical staff of the news who ensured that United’s star players were locked down in a ‘safe area’ well away from their Stoke counterparts, who were then rushed out of the training ground.

Premier League clubs are only allowed friends against clubs within a 90-minute drive of their ground.

While the missed opportunity hampers United, Stoke now has to prepare for the Championship campaign with its manager in isolation.

Fortunately, the Potters have the experience of working under a boss remotely given training during the coronavirus pause. Stoke is three points above the drop zone with nine matches to play.

Top 10 USMNT players in Premier League history

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There has been a steady stream of USMNT players in the Premier League over the years and now seems like a good time to reveal our top 10.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

No shock that plenty of ‘Fulhamerica’ stars feature in our rankings list below, and plenty of goalkeepers too, as there are plenty of factors to consider when ranking the top USMNT players to have graced the Premier League. How much of an impact did they have? Which teams did they play for? How long did they stay in England’s top-flight?

Feel free to let us know if you agree with the rankings in the comments below. Hopefully we will have plenty of USMNT players in the Premier League to add to these rankings in the years to come.


10 – Kasey Keller: The first of several American goalkeepers in our list, Kasey Keller bounced around plenty of Premier League teams and was as reliable as ever for all of them. Keller played for Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Fulham and his baggy sweatpants during his days at Leicester were a thing of beauty. Keller played in goal as Leicester won the 1996-97 League Cup and that is where he had the majority of his success. The Seattle native battled with Brad Friedel, Tony Meola and Tim Howard for minutes throughout his USMNT career and spent the majority of his club playing days in Europe with stops in Spain and Germany along the way.

9 – Landon Donovan: This pick could cause some controversy but I’m going with it. Donovan only played on loan at Everton for two brief spells but he was so good on both occasions that Everton’s fans were begging David Moyes to sign him permanently from the LA Galaxy. Donovan used those loan spells to get himself ready for the upcoming MLS campaigns but it also seemed like a reminder to everyone who doubted him that he could indeed cut it in the big leagues in Europe after failures at Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich earlier in his career. Donovan was quite happy to play the role of fleeting star at Everton for a few months then fly back to LA and star for the Galaxy. Can we really argue with that plan? It was a shame, though, that one of the greatest players in USMNT history didn’t grace the Premier League stage for longer.

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8 – Claudio Reyna: Played in 105 games for Sunderland and Man City and would have played a lot more had injuries not him hard. Reyna spent the prime years of his career in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg (who he captained) but he was still hugely influential for both Man City and Sunderland who, at that time, were midtable Premier League teams. Reyna had been at Glasgow Rangers and is known as the original ‘Captain America’ who led by example with his silky skills in midfield at Sunderland and Man City.

7 – Geoff Cameron: Clint Dempsey is the only American outfield player to have appeared in more Premier League games than Cameron. A six-season stay with Stoke City in the PL saw Cameron operate at right back, center back and in his preferred role of central midfield and his composure on the ball compliments his defensive ability and reading of the game. Cameron has flown under the radar but was hugely appreciated at Stoke. The Boston native was influential in the USMNT’s 2014 World Cup and 2016 Copa America Centenario teams and he has risen from the college game in the U.S. to the PL via the Houston Dynamo through sheer hard work and grit. Underrated.

6 – Carlos Bocanegra: Bocanegra became the captain and leader at Fulham and will go down as one of the greatest American defenders of all time. His five-season stay at Fulham was during the real heyday of ‘Fulhamerica’ and he had a very respectable career in Europe after spells at Rennes, Glasgow Rangers, Saint Etienne and Racing Santander. Boca was a dominant center back who had class on the ball with his left foot and dominated MLS as a youngster. He won 110 caps for the U.S. and played at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, captaining the team in the latter and during their amazing Gold Cup run.

5 – Christian Pulisic: Listen, he’s only played in the Premier League 16 times but he’s scored five goals (including a hat trick against Burnley) and it’s safe to say he’s having a huge impact at one of the biggest clubs in England, Chelsea. Pulisic is still just 21 years old and he’s living his dream ripping it up in the PL after his $75 million transfer from Borussia Dortmund. His creativity, pace and cutting edge in the final third means he has taken the reputation of American players to a whole new level. Only at the start of his Premier League journey but if we’re updating these rankings in five years time, it’s hard to see how Pulisic will not be at the very top given how much potential he has to be a star at Chelsea.

4 – Brian McBride: Another ‘Fulhamerica’ star, McBride was a hero at Craven Cottage. The Illinois native was a proper old school center forward and was loved at first Everton, then Fulham for his bravery. A menace in the air, he led the line superbly and was captain of Fulham alongside Bocanegra and the host of American players (Kasey Keller, Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey were all in Fulham’s 2007-08 squad). McBride scored 41 goals across four seasons at Fulham and will forever hold a place in the hearts of their fans.

3- Brad Friedel: An incredible career in England which saw him play at Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham across 16 Premier League seasons. Friedel played until he was 43 and told us all about his journey in this piece about his arrival in the English game and how he lasted so long at the top level in the UK. He played in 450 Premier League games which is a record for any player from North or South America. His agility and positioning allowed him to stay in the game for so long and he was a great in a truly great generation of American goalkeepers. He played 82 times for the USMNT and was the starter at both the 1998 and 2002 World Cups before moving aside to let Tim Howard take over. When we talk about legendary American playing careers, Friedel is right at the top and his form in the Premier League definitely opened the door for Howard and other young USMNT goalkeepers to arrive in the years to come. The fact his incredible hybrid accent isn’t the main highlight from his career in England tells you just how great of a goalkeeper he was. Oh, and he scored for Blackburn against Charlton too.

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2- Clint Dempsey: Deuce was a game-changer for American players in the Premier League. Dempsey was something completely different than what English teams and fans had seen before from U.S. stars and his swagger on the ball saw him become a legend at Fulham. He was one of their best players during their epic run to the UEFA Europa League final (my goodness, that chip against Juventus in the last 16) and finished as their top goalscorer during several seasons. In the 2011-12 season he scored 23 goals in all competitions and he then moved on to Tottenham. He contributed at Spurs but it was in his six seasons at Fulham where he had the biggest impact as he won back-to-back players of the year awards during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Dempsey is a Fulham and USMNT legend and anytime Fulham or the USA needed him he stood tall.

1 – Tim Howard: A legend at Everton after being at Goodison Park for 10 years, Howard was consistently superb for a decade. The New Jersey native did okay when he first arrived in England at Man United but after an initial loan spell at Everton, he had found his home and soon joined permanently. From 2006 to 2016 he was a constant in Everton’s goal, making fine reflex stops and rushing off his line to thwart danger as the Toffees became a team which challenged for the top six and reached the latter stages of cup competitions consistently. Howard, now 41, is adored at Everton and like Friedel, he even scored a goal in the Premier League. When all is said and done, Howard had the biggest impact over the longest period of time of any American player on a single Premier League club.

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Honorable mention: Brad Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin, Jonathan Spector, Joe-Max Moore, Jay DeMerit, John Harkes

Premier League Goals of the Season: 2016-17

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It starts with distance rips from two current Liverpool players and didn’t stop until multiple iconic goals grace our screens.

Those are the goals of the 2016-17 Premier League season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Jordan Henderson and Xherdan Shaqiri, the latter then of Stoke City, wowed us in August but the real fireworks came via two names familiar to Arsenal.

Olivier Giroud’s amazing scorpion kick was met by Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s remarkable goal, and who can forget Emre Can’s vicious goal from distance for Liverpool? Paul Pogba’s sumptuous side volley is also under consideration.

It was a great season for goals. Which one is your favorite?