A tip of the Easter cap to LA Galaxy’s Bruce Arena

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We really should tip an Easter cap to Bruce Arena. The Galaxy manager has his team in a good place at the moment, against the odds, it must be said.

The Galaxy was down three DPs to start yesterday’s contest in Canada, one that finished in a useful 2-2 draw with improving Toronto FC.

Robbie Keane is injured. David Beckham has yet to be replaced. (His midfield-ing or his modeling, I suppose.) And Landon Donovan got on the field for the final 30 minutes, but this was hardly the slashing, dashing, swashbuckling Donovan with which we are all so familiar. He’ll surely get there, but Donovan was quite tame in Toronto.

Past Omar Gonzalez there just are not a bunch of Galaxy starters out there that MLS coaches would come to blows over. Don’t misunderstand; there are a lot of good MLS starters, guys like Todd Dunivant, Juninho and Mike Magee. (What about that Mike Magee, anyway? A.k.a. Major League Soccer’s leading scorer with five goals this young season.) But these are not a bunch of league A-listers for which other teams would happily swap valuable assets.

(MORE: Thoughts and highlights on the Galaxy win in Canada)

The Galaxy are picking up points and progressing through CONCACAF Champions League through good choices with the ball, tight organization, hard work all over the field and opportunism near goal. (Did you see young Jose Villarreal’s stoppage-time equalizer? Boom!)

That’s not just about Arena’s daily training sessions, it is also about stacking the locker room with the right characters, about building the kind of roster that can weather a few storms.

Speaking of CONCACAF Champions League, it would have been so ridiculously easy for Arena’s men to be distracted yesterday at BMO Field. They meet Monterrey at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday, the first of the clubs’ Champions League semifinal series. Monterrey hosts the return leg a week later in Mexico.

But that was no distracted team Saturday. (Well, perhaps on one ridiculous moment, where the Galaxy gave away a first-half goal.) Otherwise, Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho generally overwhelmed the home team’s central midfield. Further up the field, the Galaxy outshot their hosts, 14-7.

No MLS manager has experienced as much success as Arena, who has four MLS Cup crowns (two with D.C. United back in the day, two with the Galaxy). And so far in 2013, no MLS manager has done more to be proud of, all things considered.

(MORE: Landon Donovan back on the field for LA Galaxy)

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