Reader generated content: MLS salary cap, CONCACAF Champions League and the “long run”

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We received lots of wonderful, smart comments after Wednesday’s post on MLS failures in CONCACAF Champions League.

In an effort to introduce a new conversation, in trying to avoid covering the same heavily trampled ground, I proposed that an imbalance of experience in meaningful matches is denting MLS chances in the annual, regional club tournament.

I acknowledged that salary cap and roster depth were surely major elements of this ongoing Liga MX whuppin’. But writers like myself sometimes (falsely) assume that everyone remembers how often we already have stated the obvious, so we tend to undersell the glowing, red-letter items when taking the conversation elsewhere.

For the record, dominance of Liga MX teams in CONCACAF Champions League is largely about money and, by extension, a higher quality of collective play. (That was expressed by several readers simply as Liga MX sides being “better.”  Fair enough.)

Seeing as so many of the comments drew a big red line right back to the salary/money issue, this needs to be said:  Major League Soccer is what it is.

There always seems to be an insinuation in these comments (not always, but often) that MLS needs to spend more. It’s a fine debate to have.

I get the point. Still, patience has its long-term reward. I was seeing the same arguments 10 years ago, a.k.a. the darker years, when a grand total of 10 teams made up (in retrospect) an alarmingly wobbly Major League Soccer. Number of dedicated stadiums 10 years ago today: one.

(The Home Depot Center, this country’s second major stadium constructed expressly for pro soccer, opened in June of 2003.)

Had Major League Soccer owners gone all in at the time, throwing yet more money into the sinkhole, there wouldn’t be an MLS today.

Times have changed, and how. But the “math” here remains fairly simple: TV numbers keep rising, but remain relatively modest. Until those increase substantially, most clubs will continue to lose money. Until a few more beat their way into black ink, the salary cap increases will be modest at best.

It is what it is.

Everybody wants it to happen faster for MLS; me, too. But it deserves to be said every now and then: this has always been a marathon, not a sprint, and the pro game is in a pretty good place, all things considered.

Alex Morgan named CONCACAF Female POY, Navas wins Male POY

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CONCACAF awarded some of its finest players and coaches on Sunday night, and two familiar faces took home the evening’s most notable awards.

[ MORE: Making sense of table in Man City’s world ]

U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and Real Madrid each earned Female and Male Player of the Year honors, after boasting tremendous 2017 seasons.

Morgan who primarily plays for Orlando in the NWSL, was also a member of Lyon, who went on to win the Women’s Champions League this past season.

Navas, on the other hand, played a key role in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League run, as well as Los Blancos’ La Liga title.

For Morgan, the award is her third since CONCACAF began handing out its annual awards in 2013. Meanwhile, Navas has now won Male Player of the Year on two occasions.

Leon Bailey stars but Bayer Leverkusen held 4-4 by Hannover

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BERLIN (AP) Jamaica striker Leon Bailey scored twice after coming on as a substitute but Bayer Leverkusen failed to hang on as Hannover grabbed a 4-4 draw in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

[ MORE: Liverpool smashes Bournemouth to move fourth ]

Bailey, who came on at the break, needed only two minutes to equalize after Hannover had gone 3-2 ahead, and he scored again 20 minutes later to put Leverkusen 4-3 in front.

But the 20-year-old missed another chance to complete a hat trick and Julian Korb scored late for Hannover to draw.

“I had a third chance, and I just know if I had taken that chance it would have been over for them. It’s just unlucky. But that’s football,” said Bailey. “A wise man learns from his mistakes. But a wiser man learns from others’ mistakes.”

Both teams traded goals on an afternoon to forget for the goalkeepers.

“It was worth the entrance price for the spectators,” Korb said.

Julian Brandt fired Leverkusen into an early lead with a brilliant volley but Ihlas Bebou replied straight away with a header for Hannover.

Niclas Fuellkrug put the home side ahead with a penalty, only for Admir Mehmedi to equalize four minutes later for Leverkusen.

Hannover went ahead again after Fuellkrug set up Felix Klaus with his heel before the break, when Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich reacted with two substitutions.

One of them was Bailey, who raced forward to reach Kai Havertz’s through ball and kept his cool to beat Hannover `keeper Philipp Tschauner.

Bailey claimed his sixth goal of the season after the game’s longest stretch without a goal when Mehmedi played him through on a counterattack after a Hannover corner.

But there was further drama to come as Bebou eluded three Leverkusen defenders to set up Korb for Hannover’s equalizer with seven minutes remaining.

Leipzig, level on points with Leverkusen, had the chance to go second again with a win at home against Hertha Berlin later Sunday.

The 2 Robbies podcast: Liverpool dominates, selling Coutinho discussed

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe start off today’s show by discussing Man United’s win at The Hawthorns as Lukaku scores for the second straight match with Juan Mata impressing with his link up play. The guys also look at Alan Pardew’s influence on the Baggies. Liverpool net four in a dominating victory over Bournemouth and with Mo Salah continuing to dominate, the Robbies ask: can Liverpool now afford to sell Coutinho? And finally, the guys discuss Bournemouth’s recent struggles.

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

Report: PSV likely to land Man City, USMNT’s Palmer-Brown on loan

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A number of well-known American players have completed moves to Europe over the years, and a former Sporting KC defender is about to embark on his own journey abroad.

[ MORE: Liverpool smashes Bournemouth to go fourth ]

U.S. youth national team centerback Erik Palmer-Brown is headed to Premier League side Manchester City, who currently leads the English top flight, after signing a pre-contract with the club back in September.

It is now believed though that the young player will go on loan once he arrives with the English side.

Metro is reporting is that Palmer-Brown is likely to complete a move to Dutch Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven on loan.

Palmer-Brown helped the U.S. Under-20 national team reach the quarterfinals at this year’s U-20 World Cup in South Korea, after previously representing several other U.S. youth national teams.