The soccer news starts with Manchester United picking up three points in the Premier League and keeping a lock on 2nd-place. The win over Liverpool extended their lead to four points over Spurs, dropping Liverpool into 3rd. That's good news for United, in a season where they've spent considerable time trying to figure themselves out. They've also spent this season looking up at Manchester City, now 13 points ahead of United at the top of the table.
Nothing about this is new in England's topflight, a league where a runaway winner reconfigures success for everybody else. Last season, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho did an admirable job convincing his club and everybody else that winning the Europa League was the point. At times, it seemed like he was the only one who noticed UEFA now puts the Europa League winner into next season's Champions League. That route into the Champions League mattered more than league finish, even though United could've still qualified for the Champions League the traditional way. A trophy isn't always a trophy at Manchester United's level, but it worked.
This season, there is no Europa League safety net, but Manchester United doesn't have the same worries about Champions League qualification. It would take an epic collapse and a epic form from the teams behind them to knock United out of the top four. This is the beginning of the era where all four of the Premier League's places in the Champions League go directly into the group stage. As long as a team finishes in the top four, there's no difference. Well, except one of them will be Premier League champions.
For Manchester United, having their city's other team parading the Premier League trophy is likely to define their season, but there's still a chance to do something. Manchester City might already have the League Cup, but they're out of the FA Cup. United is still alive in the quarterfinals and the easy pick for favorites. In the Champions League, Manchester United takes a scoreless draw with Sevilla into the home leg at Old Trafford. They have every reason to expect to join Manchester City and Liverpool in the quarterfinals.
If United outlast City in the Champions League, that's its own championship this season. Should Manchester United make it to the final, that's a scenario that could outdo the Premier League champions. If it costs United 2nd-place in the Premier League to get there, that's a fair exchange. It's also the oddity of the modern Premier League in the new era of the top four.
ESPN's Mark Ogden puts the pressure on Chelsea to show they can match Barcelona in the Champions League. The Guardian's Jacob Steinberg picks up the issues West Ham is having at the London Stadium. Tifo Football's John Brewin also looks at West Ham United.
BBC Sport has Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola recommending that England internationals play in foreign leagues. Inside World Football's David Owen argues that this might be the height of the Premier League's TV rights era. World Soccers Nick Bidwell on the importance of a healthy Marco Reus for Borussia Dortmund.
MLSsoccer.com's Matthew Doyle's review of week two in MLS. Ad Week's David Cohen looks at the deal between MLS and Twitter.
All links are provided as a courtesy. US Soccer Players nor its authors are responsible for the content of third-party links or sites. For comments, questions, and concerns please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org