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Wagner proud of 'ridiculous' Huddersfield Town run to promotion playoff final

David Wagner can’t even actually believe it. Sure, he had faith throughout the season and he certainly never doubted the character of his Huddersfield Town group. But, on the precipice of promotion, the former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder still finds it all a bit surreal.

“I’m sure we will enjoy and we know that we are now one game away from the Premier League,” Wagner said, according to the Yorkshire Post. “Even if I speak about it it sounds ridiculous.”

Wagner and Huddersfield Town edged Sheffield Wednesday in penalty kicks on Tuesday, booking their spot in the promotion playoff final. With it comes a date with Danny Williams and Reading at Wembley Stadium, and an opportunity to take a previously unfathomable leap.

Huddersfield Town hasn’t been to the top division since the early 70s. Prior to the return to the Championship in 2013, the club had largely bounced between the third and fourth tier with occasional stints in the middle. This season, under a second-year head coach, promotion seemed like an impossible goal.

On Wednesday, though, they took a step towards it. After a 0-0 draw in the opening leg, Huddersfield found themselves down a goal in the 51st minute as Steven Fletcher fired Sheffield Wednesday ahead. In the 73rd, Huddersfield bounced back via a Tom Lees own goal, one that eventually sent the match to extra time.

Eventually, extra time evolved into penalty kicks, where Huddersfield proved up to the task. Chris Löwe nailed his first opporutnity before goalkeeper Danny Ward stopped a shot from Sheffield Wednesday’s Sam Hutchinson. Both sides traded goals from there until the fifth round when Huddersfield’s Jack Payne saw his shot stopped, opening the door for Sheffield Wednesday to level the scoreline.

It didn’t happen, as Fernando Forestieri’s shot was stopped by Ward, sealing Huddersfield’s spot in the final.

“We were about to manage both legs and create some opportunities,” Wagner said. “We did some great blocks. If you play two games and you have to go to penalties, it shows how tight the games are. What we have invested over the last 10 months, everyone knows how tough this situation. How my players managed it I’m so proud for everyone connected with Huddersfield Town

“There was never any doubt about the character of this group. They have shown over the course of the season they can bounce back. They will always show they will try everything. we have to make sure we have trust and believe in ourselves. We have shown that again.”

11 comments
  • TomM

    Much as I would like to see Danny Williams in the EPL, an American coach leading a Championship side to promotion is a bigger deal, IMO. It may help with some of the stigma and bias against American coaches, especially after the Bradley fiasco. Wagner’s coaching record, first at Dortmund and now at Huddersfield, is impeccable.

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    • Anthony

      The bias is as much against coaches that come up through the American system. Wagner came up through the German system. I am in Europe for a long term internal project. They talk about him as an exciting young coach and he has interest from EPLclubs such as Watford and a few Bundesliga sides. They NEVER mention anything about him being American. They mention his German Dortmund pedigree.

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    • Jon

      I don’t know why anyone keeps referring to him as an american coach. He had single digit caps and he was born in, grew up in, and played in Germany his entire career. I hate nitpicking who is american and who is not, but c’mon this is nothing like Bradley or someone that was born in and raised in the US going on to do the same thing. Maybe something like Jermaine Jones going on to do the same, but even then, Jones has been a staple of USMNT and played and lived in the US. Does anyone know if Wagner even refers to himself as American over German?

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  • Ronniet

    A coach leading a championship side to the Prem League is absolutely the bigger deal but it’s not what’s best for the USMNT in my opinion. We need the majority of our players playing at the highest level and Danny W being in the Prem along with the likes of Cameron, Gooch, Hyndman, Osolunde and other rising youngsters will only make our team stronger. As you stated, Wagners’ coaching pedigree is impeccable, which leads me to beileve he is due a bigger managing job whether Huddlesfield get promoted or not. All in all, it’ll be a win win no matter the outcome!

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    • USMINT

      Even if he’s not viewed as “American,” having a coach in the Premier League who does not harbor anti-American bias is a bigger step in the right direction than having a single player promoted. A coach without bias can bring in multiple Americans, bring them onto the youth teams, and at the very least open the doors to them for trials.

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  • Gary Page

    I’ll be rooting for Reading because I think it’s more important for the US to have Danny Williams in the Prem. I think he deserves more chances with the USMNT and playing in the EPL can only help him and the US.

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  • Matt

    While we characterize Wagner as American by citizenship and his time as a Yank Abroad and abbreviated play with the NATs, I figure most soccer folks in Europe would deem that secondary given he was raised and sent his time in Germany (and thus would be seen as more German by Europeans). Happy for him, but I don’t see this being similar to Bradley, as Wagner never spent time in the US soccer environment. *P.S. This doesn’t make him any less of an American, etc. just don’t see it opening any doors for Americans either).

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