Another day, another lament from D.C. United

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We keep covering the same ground – but here we go again.

Here’s the problem when club officials bang the loud drums for their two favorite excuses, refereeing and scheduling:  They conveniently forget about occasions when their team benefits from the same.

So we arrive at the latest laments from D.C. United official Kevin Payne, who had this to say about his team’s 3-0 loss Saturday at Montreal:

“This is very poor scheduling,” Payne told The Washington Post. He said the league “needs to pay more attention to the competitive aspects.”

This, of course, is a week after his team managed only a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia at home. That one was on the referee rather than the schedule maker.

(MORE: Referees make mistakes, but they aren’t trying to be stars)

It sometimes seems that whenever D.C. United wins, it’s because the players were superior, the tactics were spot-on and the club rose to all its appropriately prescribed glory.

When they fall short, it was the referee. Or the schedule.

To my point of selective memory:

United was, indeed, hard up against a taxing gauntlet of games yesterday. The Black and Red was playing for a third time in seven days. Difficult? Yes.

Did it affect the result, a 3-0 win for Montreal? Probably.

But let’s hit the WABAC Machine and set the date for June 30.

D.C. United beat Montreal that day. Beat the Impact pretty good, too. By a very familiar score: 3-0.

Here’s what Montreal was up against that day: Jesse Marsch’s Impact was playing … wait for it … for the third time in eight days. But it was even worse than that. Montreal was playing its fifth game in 15 days.

For United, the toughest part of this stretch isn’t done. Ben Olsen’s team has a big one against New York this week and then travels across the country to play Real Salt Lake (which, by the way, is up against a brutal schedule slog of its own.)

So, memo to all MLS players, coaches and officials: the schedule is highly imperfect. The refereeing, too, clearly.

But everyone deals with it. Please remember that.

The teams that deal with it best will be nearer to the top at the end. Period.

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

Adam Davy/PA via AP
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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images
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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE