Major League Soccer positional Top Tens: STRIKERS

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Over the course of our rankings we’re editorialized about lists that were thin or difficult to decide. The striker list was neither. A position primarily judged by goals makes it easy to do an initial sort.

After that, you look for mitigating factors – things which transcend the goals: What’s the player doing to create for others? Were there factors that make the goal total deceiving? In the games that mattered most, did the player perform beyond his numbers? Given a sane general manager, which player’s more likely to be picked to join a team?

(MORE: full roster of our MLS preseason previews and predictions)

If you keep those questions in mind, this order makes more sense. Not that everybody’s going to agree with our Top 10 Strikers in Major League Soccer:

1. New York Red Bulls’ Thierry Henry (pictured) >

2. LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane >

3. San Jose Earthquakes’ Chris Wondolowski >
Any of these top three are “right”. Just depends what you want from a striker. Wondo’s Mr. Reliable. Henry’s got all the talent. Keane delivers when it counts. Ask around the league and Henry’s still the man, but No. 2 on this list? He has two rings and is coming off 22 all-competition goals last season. Oh, and the other guy is an MVP who just tied a record for goals in a season … so there’s that.

4. Seattle Sounders’ Eddie Johnson

5. Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio

6. Vancouver Whitecaps’ Darren Mattocks

7. Montreal Impact’s Marco Di Vaio >
How can this guy be this low (some will ask)? Five goals in 17 games last season, 10 goals in 37 during his final year in Italy, and the guy turns 37 in July. You tell me which direction this line’s heading.

8. FC Dallas’ Kenny Cooper >
Eighteen goals argues Cooper should be higher, but there’s also an argument to leave him off the list entirely. On a list that’s claiming Thierry Henry’s the best in the league, it’s reasonable to assume Cooper’s totals were significantly bolstered by the talent around him. How much were they helped? After his Henry-less year in Portland, Cooper wouldn’t have been on this list, and his time overseas wasn’t much more impressive.

9. Houston Dynamo’s Will Bruin >
Bruin proved in the playoffs that his abilities already transcend his numbers. He hasn’t put up a big goal total yet, but which of Dom Kinnear’s target men ever has?

10. New England Revolution’s Saer Sene

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