Americans Wagner and Williams face off at Wembley for Premier League spot

JS79406657By: Javier Martinez

The English Championship Final will be played on Monday at 3:00 pm local time (10:00 am eastern standard time). The final, which will see the winner get promoted to the English Premier League, will see Huddersfield Town AFC take on Reading FC.

Even though this is a second division game, it’s actually known in England as “The Richest Games in Football” because of the money received by the winner thanks to the Premier Leagues TV Rights. This season, it’s reported that the winner could receive up to £290 million (about $371 million), which also depends on whether the team manages to stay up in the English Premier League after the first season.

The English Championship Playoff was first implemented in the second division in 1987 and is the format used since to determine the third team that is promoted to the top flight. At the end of the Championship season, the top 2 teams gain automatic promotion to the Premier League while teams that finish in 3rd to 6th place take part in the playoff. The semi-final is a two-legged affair with the 3rd place team going up against the 6th place team, while the teams in 4th and 5th are matched together. Unlike in most National and European competitions, the away goals rule is not implemented and any draws on aggregate go to extra time and then penalties if needed. The finalist then face off in a one match winner take all encounter, which is held every season at Wembley Stadium in London.

This season’s final will also be a historic moment for American soccer fans as Huddersfield’s manager is former U.S. international, David Wagner. Having taken over Huddersfield in November 2015 after spending the previous 4 seasons as the head coach of Borussia Dortmund II, Wenger led Huddersfield to a 5th place finish in the 2016/2017 Championship table. In the Playoff Semi-Final, Huddersfield eliminated Sheffield Wednesday on penalties having drawn both the first and second leg. David Wagner is already the first American head coach to manage a team in the Championship Playoff Final. If Huddersfield wins, Wagner would then become the first American manager to promote a team from the Championship to the English Premier League. Even though Wagner would only be the second American to manage in the English top flight after Bob Bradley, he’d be the first to begin a Premier League season.

It would be great for U.S. Soccer to see an American manager promote an English team to the Premier League, but it still won’t be easy. Especially against an equally talented Reading side that finished 3rd in the Championship table and led by former Manchester United and Milan player Jaap Stam.

Pedro Heizer

The founder, editor and publisher of 90 Minutes Stong, Pedro is credentialed member of U.S. Soccer, Orlando City Soccer Club, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and others, as well as a member of the North American Soccer Reporters.

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