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Soccer is less brutal than such sports as football or hockey or rugby, and as a result the sport has never taken head injuries particularly seriously. The latest example happened in Italy, where Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina was kicked in the head in the fifth minute of a match against Udinese. Medical personnel checked him out, wrapped his head in a bandage and declared him fit to continue — but in the 41st minute, Ospina collapsed, unconscious.

After a scan in the hospital, Ospina was given the all-clear, but he never should have stayed on the field. And it wasn't the only recent incident. In a Euro 2020 qualifier last weekend, Switzerland defender Fabian Schar was knocked unconscious, but when he came to, the Swiss medical team asked him a few questions and then let him play the rest of the match.

There are many other examples. Former Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius was concussed during last year's Champions League final, but played the rest of the game, making two inexplicable mistakes that lost the match. Germany defender Christoph Kramer was knocked so woozy during the 2014 World Cup final that he asked the official, "Ref, is this the final?" Even so, he wasn't taken off the field until he collapsed 15 minutes later.

Leagues and teams are not taking the danger of head injuries seriously. That needs to change immediately — before something even worse happens.

Short takes

• Is there a better story in soccer right now than Italian striker Fabio Quagliarella? The Napoli native endured five years of stalking from a policeman, an ordeal that drove him away from his hometown club and robbed him of the best years of his career. Now, at 36, he's been reborn at Sampdoria and is leading the Serie A scoring race. Last weekend, he made his first appearances for the Italian national team since 2010, scoring twice — of course — against Liechtenstein.

• The U.S. men's national team won once and tied once last week — but two injuries may have turned the team into an overall loser anyway. Weston McKennie tore ligaments in an ankle and reportedly will miss the rest of the season. Christian Pulisic tore his quadriceps muscle and could miss a month. McKennie and Pulisic were the two biggest bright spots for a young USMNT squad. Now both are in doubt for the near future.


Premier League: Tottenham at Liverpool, 10:25 a.m. Sunday, NBCSN. By the time the match kicks off, Liverpool likely will be back into second place in the standings, a point behind Manchester City. Much of the title race has focused on whether Liverpool can overcome its status as a perennial underdog. Beating Tottenham, which desperately needs a win to stay in the top four, would be an accomplishment.

Writer Jon Marthaler gives you a recap of recent events and previews the week ahead.