Not for the faint of heart: Toronto let Michael Bradley play with this gash on his head

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When Michael Bradley returned to the game at BMO Field late Saturday, nobody could have guessed the wound would have looked like this. It was mid-way through the second half, and the cut that had forced him to the sidelines looked like it had been contained. Over the last 20 minutes in Toronto, Bradley’s head was a non-issue as the Reds saw out their second win of the season.

Now that we’ve seen the 13 staples in the U.S. international’s scalp, the injury doesn’t seem like such a non-issue. Post-game, after Bradley displayed a cut that appeared to be in excess of two inches long, you couldn’t help but wonder why was one of Toronto’s most valuable assets allowed to continue against D.C. United.

The injury occurred well after Bradley had helped set up the game’s only goal – a 60th minute score from Jermain Defoe. In a head-to-head collision between the midfielder and United veteran Danny Arnaud, Bradley temporarily led the game, returning minutes later with his head wrapped in a bandage. Arnaud, with his face bleeding, was removed from the game in favor of Kyle Porter, his team tailing 1-0.

After the match, Toronto-based reporters Kurt Larson (left) and Cathal Kelly (right) grabbed these shots:

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With Toronto up one — with just over 20 minutes left in the game — why was Bradley put back on? Is there no procedure in place where a trainer can go to a coach and say “that cut looks really bad”? Or is there no mechanism in place where the staff simply assesses the risks against the rewards and decides it’s not worth it?

Sure, Bradley probably felt he could continue, and given everything we’ve heard from BMO Field, there was no reason to think there was any conscious-related reason to keep him out. But this is why you don’t leave the decision to the player, especially when they can’t actually see the wound. That’s is a pretty big cut, and so early in the season, with a goal-starved D.C. United trying to comeback, why was Bradley risked?

You want to give the Toronto staff the benefit of the doubt, but one wayward elbow or another collision of heads and that cut could have gotten really ugly. Well, uglier.

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

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League Cup wrap: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

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Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

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The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

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On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET