Are more Designated Players en route to MLS?

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It didn’t gain much attention, but Major League Soccer’s board of governors held their usual meetings around MLS Cup. Nothing substantive in an immediate-news way apparently rose from the talks, which marked a contrast to the last two similar set of talks.

(In 2010, owners dropped a whopper by unexpectedly adding two playoff sides. And last year, owners adopted the new format that awarded host rights to the MLS Cup finalist of better record, another biggie.)

But there was a “start” to something semi-significant, at least. The deciders of Major League Soccer began foraging for intelligent ways to add more marquee men and to generally add a little more salary cap operating space.

This is significant because the salary cap’s incremental increases have already been negotiated within the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement. So, essentially, the owners are saying here, “We don’t have to spend more money on salary … but let’s find a way to do it, anyway.”

(MORE: Heard and overheard during MLS Cup week)

How would it work? That’s what they were throwing around the table in Los Angeles, according to one person familiar with the discussions. How to add more DPs was a major element of the talks. That does not necessarily mean adding a fourth potential DP per team; more likely it’s about how to get more teams into the DP game, probably through additional mid-level types.

For instance, rather than adding the next Robbie Keane or Thierry Henry, they’d like to add more Fredy Monteros or David Ferreiras. Those are talented fellows who cannot check the box on “household name,” but who surely elevate the overall standard of play and tend to become regional fan favs.

Or, can salary be goosed to help keep more of the home-grown up-and-comers, guys like Roger Espinoza, Austin Berry or Matt Besler (pictured). The idea, of course, is assisting clubs who want to keep these guys from being Euro-plucked.

Either way, consider this a “heads up,” because an unexpected little bump in clubs’ collective salary structure may be on the way.

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.