Season 3 (assuming there is one) of Netflix’s Sunderland ‘Til I Die may finally get the happy ending the club (and its supporters) deserve both on and off the pitch.
Michael Dell, founder of Dell Technologies, is part of an American investment group negotiating to buy the club.
According to the Sunderland Echo, the group includes Glenn Fuhrman, John Phelan and Robert Platek. Dell will reportedly be a passive, minor stakeholder.
The Echo claims that talks are early but “positive.”
How’s Sunderland doing this year?
Sunderland are off to an encouraging start in League One (England’s third division). They are projected as the favorites to win the league, both on FiveThirtyEight probabilities and by oddsmakers.
DraftKings Sportsbook NJ has them priced at +400 to win the league. Portsmouth follows at +550.
Sunderland was relegated from the Premier League in the 2016-17 season. They were then dropped down from the Championship in 2017-18. Their 2018-19 season was an improvement, but they failed to get promoted in the Championship League playoff.
We talked earlier this week about the notable developments that Matchday 1 in Spain brought for Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. We’re going to get to whether any of those three should be on upset alert this weekend.
Can the promoted clubs make another splash?
But first, how about the season openers by Mallorca, Osasuna and Granada, who made their La Liga “debuts” last week? If 90 minutes are anything to go by – which is admittedly a big “if” – these teams have a great shot to not only extend their stay in the top flight, but possibly make some noise in ’19-20.
Let’s start with Mallorca, who got here in thrilling fashion and have an ownership group with as much star power and U.S. relevance as any club in Spain. The club is owned by Phoenix Suns Owner Robert Sarver. Steve Nash, the Basketball Hall of Famer and avid soccer fan (and Bleacher Report analyst) is on Mallorca’s board of directors, and former U.S. internationals Kyle Martino and Stu Holden are minority stakeholders.
Because of their famous ownership group, Mallorca were going to be an interesting team to watch regardless of what happened on the field. They all the more intriguing after handling Eibar 2-1 in the La Liga opener last weekend thanks in large part to a strong start: Mallorca were up 1-0 before the five-minute mark thanks to an early goal by Dani Rodríguez.
And it didn’t take long for Mallorca to make a notable personnel move, either, as they signed a one-year loan deal for Real Madrid 18-year-old Takefusa Kubo on Thursday. The Japanese attacking midfielder generated significant buzz with a couple of strong performances for Real Madrid during their summer friendlies. This team has deep enough pockets to make another move or two before La Liga’s transfer window closes on Sept. 2, and if they’re exceeding expectations by January, they could be a team to keep an eye on during the winter window.
Osasuna also won its season opener, beating Leganés 1-0. And while Granada only got one point, they’re another team to keep an eye on after earning a draw in a thrilling 4-4 shootout against Villarreal.
This weekend, all three of these teams are at home. Granada (+295) has a tough match-up on Friday vs. Sevilla (-107), while Osasuna (+155) is a slight favorite vs. Eibar (+200) on Saturday and Mallorca is a slight underdog (+200) against Real Sociedad (+145) on Sunday.
Will Barcelona bounce back?
The Catalans are off to a rough start. In addition to a rare domestic loss in their season opener at Athletic Bilbao, Luis Suárez, Ousmane Dembélé and Lionel Messi are all injured. (Otherwise, Barcelona are totally healthy after one of 38 La Liga games). But while Suárez and Dembélé will miss several games, Messi practiced on Thursday and is expected to be available to come off the bench, but not start, Sunday vs. Real Betis at Camp Nou.
Considering the level of expectations for this team, Barça need to win — and look good in the process — as badly as any team in Europe. For the reigning league champs, Sunday would be a great time for Antoine Griezmann to have his first big game in a Barcelona shirt. The oddsmakers are not worried at all, as Barcelona (-400) is heavily favored over Real Betis (+950). At that price, betting on either a win by the visitors or a draw (+510) might be worth a shot.
Can Real Madrid and Atleti build on their strong starts?
Neither of these teams had much of an issue with their Matchday 1 opponent, especially not RM, which whipped Celta Vigo 3-1 last weekend. Los Blancos (-500) should handle Valladolid (+1,100) without a problem at the Santiago Bernabéu on Saturday. Another easy win would be a big step toward healing the various wounds with which this team entered the season after a dramatic summer.
Despite all the offensive flair João Félix and Los Rojiblancos showed during preseason, their 1-0 win over Getafe last weekend was classic Diego Simeone soccer: they took an early lead and stifled their opponent the rest of the way. It will be interesting to see Atleti’s approach at Leganés (+440) on Sunday, where they will not exactly be a massive favorite (-129).
Who: NYCFC vs New York Red Bulls
When: Saturday, August 24th @ 07:00 pm ET
Line: NYCFC +100 | Draw +280 | New York Red Bulls +235
The table could not be set any better for Saturday night’s edition of the Hudson River Derby at Yankee Stadium, the second and final regular-season match-up between the local rivals in 2019.
Each of the teams is coming off a win on Wednesday night, with NYCFC dispatching Columbus in the Bronx while the New York Red Bulls took three points and the Atlantic Cup off of old rivals DC United in a thriller.
Those results leave NYCFC one point behind joint Eastern Conference leaders Atlanta United and Philadelphia Union. The Red Bulls are in fourth place, three points behind NYC.
And for a little added spice to an already potent rivalry, NYCFC has likely still not gotten over the circumstances that led to the Red Bulls 2-1 victory on July 14th in round one of this MLS Heavyweight bout.
The controversy surrounded the game-winning goal, alertly scored by RBNY from a quickly taken throw-in by Alex Muyl while NYCFC hesitated, waiting for the corner kick, as called by the linesman. Referee Alan Kelly, considered by many to be the top referee in the league, initially said that he had overruled the corner and that he had informed both teams.
Speaking to Pro Soccer USA’s Glenn Crooks a few days after the match, Howard Webb contradicted that statement. Webb, the general manager of the Professional Referees Organization, conceded that the officiating crew was at fault for the confusion that led to Royer’s game-winner.
“With hindsight, the referee should have stopped the game at that point and indicated to everybody to give clarity that the restart was going to be a throw-in.” Webb added, “there was a verbal indication to the assistant that it should be a throw-in, but there was no time to communicate to the NYC players.” “To be clear,” the former English Premier League official added,” there was no communication from the referee to the players.”
So, there’s that.
NYCFC vs New York Red Bulls Preview
NYCFC enters the game at even money. They’ve been the better side overall this season and as of late (LWLWW to RBNY’s LWLDW). They have the league’s third best point differential at +14, trailing Atlanta’s +15 and LAFC’s absurd +46. Probability models favor NYCFC as well:
However, the Red Bulls will be riding high after taking the full complement of points home from their trip to our nation’s capital. Daniel Royer has been particularly strong, pairing with Alejandro Romero Gamarra for goals against DC. For the Red Bulls to really have a chance this match, Aaron Long will need to have a strong performance. His game against DC was statistically his best game–including international competitions–since May against Montreal.
With MLS assist leader Maxi Moralez, Heber, Valentín Castellanos, and Alexandru Mitrita, RBNY have to contend with a lot of firepower. If it’s anything less than a Premier League level performance from Long and Michael Murillo, it could be a long night for the MLS originals