What are MLS clubs getting from loan assignments?

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As we knock around the possibilities of loans for MLS men, something gets lost in the discourse: What, exactly, does this do for MLS clubs?

I know it’s exciting for supporters to see their club’s main men linked, if only for 6 or 8 weeks, to storied clubs with 120 of history and such, teams playing in Euro leagues of plenty. Heck, we get a little spring in our step just to hear that someone is training at one of these spots for two weeks.

It serves as some sort of validation, I suppose. “They want our guy? Ooh, how cool!”

I get that.

But when we all take a step back, it’s fair to wonder how the MLS club benefits here?

Younger men on training assignment do get a compressed dose of “something different,” and that’s a good thing. They live and breathe the varied training methods and absorb a feel for the serious professionalism about which pros in other lands go about their daily soccer chores.  That makes sense.

But loan deals for veterans? Case-by-case, these might occasionally make sense. Landon Donovan to Everton two years ago? Thumbs up. Then en route to becoming the U.S. national team’s all-time leading scorer, Donovan got a lot out of his time at Goodison Park, if only in confidence and self-validation that he could pass muster at the very highest level.

The next year’s loan back to the same place? Nah, not so much. Donovan has since said that a second bite off the Everton loan apple was probably ill advised – and there is a perfect illustration of how the value of these things must be measured carefully, individually.

Did Arsenal get something from Thierry Henry’s loan last year? Yes.

Did the Red Bulls? Highly doubtful, beyond a brief PR spike, perhaps.

MLS and the clubs do own the players’ contracts, so they have a right to wonder what benefits may fall their way.

Players do need their rest, after all. Perhaps Jurgen Klinsmann disagrees in the case of players seeking to climb the international rungs, and fair enough. But let’s take a guy like Vancouver Whitecaps and Scottish international striker Kenny Miller, who is what he is at age 32.

So, good on Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie for re-grounding this on-going loan chitchat. In talking about Miller as a potential loan target in January, Rennie essentially said, “What are we getting out of it?”

Exactly.

Said Rennie:

No one has discussed it with me. If there was a case where we were presented with then we would consider that at the time, but generally speaking I don’t really see too much benefit in it.”

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