Starry nights: MLS Team of the Week – Round 26

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ProSoccerTalk’s Best XI from Week 26 in Major League Soccer includes a wily ol’ veteran who hit his first goal this year. And his second, too!

Goalkeeper:

  • Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando

Rationale, motive and intent: The U.S. international had four saves in an important win over D.C. United. (New England’s Matt Reis was huge in a weekend draw with Philadelphia. But allowing three in the previous match (which was also part of Week 26) makes the Revs’ vet a harder sell. Same for Revolution center back Stephen McCarthy, who was also quite strong in Saturday’s draw at home.)

Back line:

  • Portland’s Hanyer Mosquera
  • Chicago’s Arne Friedrich
  • New York’s Wilman Conde
  • San Jose’s Ramiro Corrales

Rationale, motive and intent: Mosquera won almost every battle in the weekend win over Colorado, and that’s not easy when the other battler is a sledgehammer like Conor Casey. Friedrich and the rest of the Chicago Fire came within minutes of a clean sheet before Brian Ching got loose for a late strike in the Fire’s important 3-1 win over Houston.

Conde and Corrales both played left back. But both turned in impressive performances in storybook conditions. Conde was essentially an “experiement” as left back in Red Bulls’ match with D.C. United. So, who would have possibly thought he would get forward to nail the late equalizer with a stunning first-timer? And with his right foot of all things!

Corrales is no longer a first-choice starter for Frank Yallop at Buck Shaw. But what a night he had in spelling starter Justin Morrow. Corrales hit his first goal this year. And then his second! Both on free kicks, the second one a clever and sneaky effort as Chivas USA arranged its wall.

(MORE: ProSoccerTalk’s Player of the Week: Federico Higuain)

Midfield:

  • Sporting Kansas City’s Paulo Nagamura
  • L.A. Galaxy’s Juninho (pictured)
  • Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso
  • Philadelphia’s Brian Carroll

Rationale, motive and intent: A couple of guys just keep popping up on this list.

Juninho makes his second consecutive ProSoccerTalk Team of the Week appearance. Another goal for the Galaxy, and another high-rev overall performance in the Galaxy midfield highlighted a 2-0 win over Vancouver. Of course, for Juninho and the Los Angeles Galaxy, all of that is becoming known simply as a “Saturday.”

Nagamura may have been a little lucky with his bouncing goal in the 2-1, tougher-than-expected win over Toronto, but all of his hustle, bustle and quality work in midfield was hardly an accident.

Alonso put in the full shift’s worth of work in oppressive conditions, even if he did need to leave just a bit early (in the 78th minute) with a gash in his head. He and Brad Evans helped keep Dallas’ David Ferreira from being overly dangerous as the teams matched one goal each in Texas.

Carroll’s work is the kind that’s never really appreciated as it probably should be, positionally solid and extremely reliable in possession. But scoreless draws on the road (at New England in this case) don’t happen with contributions like his.

Forward:

  • Columbus’ Federico Higuain
  • D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario

Rationale, motive and intent: Higuain is another making a repeat appearance here, thanks to another outstanding week for the Columbus Crew. That week included four assists evenly dispersed over a pair of Crew wins.

“De Ro” hit career goal No. 100 in a draw with New York (and assisted on his team’s other strike in the 2-2 draw.) Then he hit everything but the goal in a tough loss just three nights later at Real Salt Lake.

Wigan player races off for son’s birth after scoring 2 goals

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WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.

A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.

[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]

A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.

Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.

“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”

Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”

Lille suspends coach Marcelo Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.

[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]

The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.

The 2 Robbies podcast: PL sides in the UCL, Pulis sacking and more

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In today’s Euro Pod Edition, the Robbies breakdown the latest Champions League action. Man United lose at Basel, Chelsea cruise at Qarabag, Spurs impress against Dortmund, Man City continue to win, Liverpool surrender a 3-goal lead against Sevilla. Plus, the guys weigh in on the Oumar Niasse ban for diving and the Tony Pulis sacking.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Europa League preview: Arsenal looks to wrap up Group H and more

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While several teams have already booked their place in the knockout phase, the Europa League reaches its penultimate round on Thursday with many big matches in hand.

[ MORE: Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training ]

Of the two Premier League sides in the competition, only one will advance to the Round of 32, as Arsenal have all but assured themselves of the top spot in Group H. The Gunners can do so tomorrow with a win over Koln or a Red Star Belgrade defeat.

The other end of the spectrum features Everton, who has already been eliminated from reaching the next round after acquiring just one point in its first four matches.

European giants AC Milan can lock up a spot in the knockout phase on Thursday despite the club’s ongoing struggles in Serie A, while fellow Italian side Atalanta can move a step closer to the Round of 32 in Group E along with Lyon.

Here’s the full rundown of Thursday’s UEL matches.

Astana vs. Villareal — 11 a.m. ET
Konyaspor vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Rosenborg vs. Real Sociedad — 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Vitesse — 1 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Steaua Bucuresti — 1 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv vs. Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit vs. Vardar — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Vitoria — 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hertha Berlin — 1 p.m. ET
BATE vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Ostersund vs. Zorya — 1 p.m. ET
Koln vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Zulte Waregem — 1 p.m. ET
Lugano vs. Beer-Sheva — 1 p.m. ET
Ludogorets vs. Istanbul — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Hoffenheim — 3:05 p.m. ET
AEK vs. Rijeka — 3:05 p.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien — 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Apollon — 3:05 p.m. ET
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Slavia Praha — 3:05 p.m. ET
Sheriff vs. Zlin — 3:05 p.m. ET
Partizan vs. Young Boys — 3:05 p.m. ET
Skenderbeu vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:05 p.m. ET
Everton vs. Atalanta — 3:05 p.m. ET