Red Bulls Henry celebrates after scoring against Impact during their MLS soccer match in Montreal

Examining the top 10 earners in MLS

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Well, this happens every single season. But it always creates plenty of hype, discussion and debate.

Major League Soccer usually releases players salary figures a few months into the season, fans, pundits and just about everyone has a say on who is a bargain, who is overpaid and what clubs are doing fantastically well within their salary cap.

MLS announced the 2013 salaries yesterday, with plenty of surprises on hand.

Just one player eligible to play for the USMNT is among the top ten earners, Landon Donovan, and a whole host of nationalities can be found, including a Frenchman, Irishman, Australian, Italian, Dutchman, Scotsman and two Colombians.

So, without further adieu, let’s crack on and find out who are the top ten earners in MLS (total salary), and examine whether or not they’re worth it. It was good enough for the Roman amphitheater’s back in the day, so we are going to use a simple “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Down” method to judge MLS’ superstars.

1. Thierry Henry – $4,350,000

New York’s talisman has had a few injury problems over the past year, but when he is fit and fired up not many defenders can get near him. Henry looks to have embraced Mike Petke in charge and is helping the Red Bulls fight back after a poor start to the season.

Thumbs Up

2. Robbie Keane – $4,333,333.33

The Irishman has also had his injury struggles but being handed the LA Galaxy captaincy proves his worth to the side. He was on fire in the second-half of last season, acting as the catalyst for LA’s MLS Cup success. Keane is without doubt the best finisher in the league. Totally worth the big bucks.

Thumbs Up

3. Tim Cahill – $3,620,000

A month ago, this would have been a big thumbs down. But Cahill has turned his season around. Some may argue he isn’t doing much different. And you would be right. The Aussie has played the same all season, but recently he has found the back of the net with regularity. Clutch goals are worth their weight in gold.

Thumbs Up

(MORE: Bargains around the league, based on the numbers)

4. Landon Donovan – $2,500,000

A lot of deliberation about this one. Yes he is one of greatest US players of all time and has been LA’s main man for several season now. But Donovan’s winter sojourn has cast some shadows on his importance to the team. And he has played well in spells since coming back but also missed two PKs and looked rusty at times.

Thumbs Up

5. Marco Di Vaio – $1,937,508

The Italian is incredible, scoring several terrific goals so far and showing no signs of stopping. He accepts he won’t start every game for Montreal, but he slots perfectly into the squad rotation system. Di Vaio’s experience and natural talent to finish should lead the Impact deep into the postseason.

Thumbs Up

6. Obafemi Martins – $1,725,000

Injury-hit and taking his time to adjust to MLS, Martins has shown pockets of brilliance so far for Seattle. Once he gets into his groove, much like Keane in the second half of last season, expect the Nigerian to rip it up.

Thumbs Up

7. Danny Koevermans – $1,663,323.33

Harsh to give him the thumbs down, but Koevermans has just been so injury prone. When he does play, the goals are always flowing. But for Toronto’s new look side, a more mobile striker is needed to chase long balls. Koevermans just doesn’t fit the bill.

Thumbs Down

8. Kenny Miller – $1,132,492

The Scot endured a tough first season in MLS last year. And things haven’t got much better this season. Despite having the captain’s armband for some games, Miller has not delivered the goals Martin Rennie would have hoped for. You can never fault his effort but he should be grabbing goals for Vancouver.

Thumbs Down

9. Fredy Montero – $856,000

Strange one this, as Montero is currently on loan with Millonarios back in Colombia. But in the salaries released his is right up there still. Obviously the Sounders are getting a fee for his services while he is on loan. He is worth big money in MLS, no doubt. But he is too hot and cold for me.

Thumbs Down

10. David Ferreira – $730,000

Great to see the diminutive Dallas attacker back fit and healthy. The 33-year-old is still the heartbeat of FCD and if they can keep their good early season form going, Ferreira’s form is key. The number of chances he creates is incredible and a few more goals from the Colombian could help Dallas go far.

Thumbs Up

Messi named La Liga Player of the Month for first time in career

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 06:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Copa del Rey Round of 16 first leg match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on January 6, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Lionel Messi has won every individual award imaginable, but now he can add another trophy to his shelf.

For the first time in his career, Messi was named La Liga’s Player of the Month for January.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings, Vol. VIII ]

It’s hard to believe, but somehow the Barcelona superstar had never won this honor before. Despite winning a record five Ballon D’or trophies as the best player in the world, this trophy had eluded Messi since its inception in 2013.

Messi scored six goals in six January matches as Barcelona sit atop the La Liga table, currently holding a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

Despite their dominance in La Liga, this is only the second time a Barcelona player has won this monthly award, as Neymar took home the honor in November of 2015.

USWNT-Mexico preview: Energized Yanks look to keep rolling toward Rio

FRISCO, TX - FEBRUARY 10:  Team USA poses for a photo before play against Costa Rica during 2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying at Toyota Stadium on February 10, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The United States women’s national team looks to keep rolling through CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying with a match with Mexico on Saturday.

Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, is again the scene after the Yanks battered Costa Rica 5-0 on Wednesday.

[ MUST WATCH: Christen Press’ dazzling first touch, spin, goal ]

A win over Mexico would move the USWNT into the all-important semifinal, where a win would gain them entry into this Summer’s Olympic Games.

Mexico staged a blowout of its own on Wednesday, cruising past Puerto Rico 6-0 thanks in large part to a hat trick from Maribel Dominguez.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

Mexico has only beaten the USWNT twice in history, and only the 2010 Gold Cup semifinal is considered official.

In recent history, the USWNT beat up Mexico 5-1 last year, and thrice in 2014 by a combined score of 15-0. Expect very little to change with an energized, impressive U.S. side on Saturday.

[ SATURDAY: Watch USWNT vs Mexico live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Big boys to turn up

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Week 26 of the Premier League season is here. This will be a lot of fun with massive games at both ends of the table.

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live online ]

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out.

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.

BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Arsenal 3-2 Leicester City – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Norwich City 0-2 West Ham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, USA) –  [STREAM]

Man City 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur – (Sunday 11:15 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Sunderland 0-2 Manchester United – (Saturday, 7:45 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Everton 2-1 West Brom  – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Swansea 1-1 Southampton – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM] 

Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM]

Chelsea 3-2 Newcastle – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Bournemouth 2-1 Stoke City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM]

Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Ranieri on Leicester City’s dream season: “Nobody wake us up please!”

during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England.
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There’s plenty to like about Leicester City’s run to the top of the Premier League, but perhaps nothing is more enjoyable that its manager’s musings.

Claudio Ranieri, the Tinkerman himself, has provided some of the best quips of the season.

[ MORE: Top 5 storylines to look for in PL ]

From “I want to be the crazy man in the Premier League” to “It’s like nobody wants to win the league“, the 64-year-old Italian has offered plenty of beauties.

Make way for some more gems, from LCFC.com:

“I think we work so hard to achieve this level. We want to stay at this level. It’s no pressure for us. The pressure was at the beginning to start well, to carry on and maintain the standard of our performance.
“Now we are safe and we want to fight with respect with all our opponents. Face to face, we play with our strength and they play with theirs. If we win, fantastic. If we lose, next match.
“I think the pressure is on the other teams. We have pressure for our little gap. We continue to dream with our fans and we want to continue to dream. Nobody wake us up please!”
We love this man. To go from a short-lived run in Euro qualifying with Greece to this remarkable roll with Leicester has to be a bit dream-like. We get it. And we love that he’s going with it.