Major League Soccer positional Top Tens: STRIKERS

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Over the course of our rankings we’re editorialized about lists that were thin or difficult to decide. The striker list was neither. A position primarily judged by goals makes it easy to do an initial sort.

After that, you look for mitigating factors – things which transcend the goals: What’s the player doing to create for others? Were there factors that make the goal total deceiving? In the games that mattered most, did the player perform beyond his numbers? Given a sane general manager, which player’s more likely to be picked to join a team?

(MORE: full roster of our MLS preseason previews and predictions)

If you keep those questions in mind, this order makes more sense. Not that everybody’s going to agree with our Top 10 Strikers in Major League Soccer:

1. New York Red Bulls’ Thierry Henry (pictured) >

2. LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane >

3. San Jose Earthquakes’ Chris Wondolowski >
Any of these top three are “right”. Just depends what you want from a striker. Wondo’s Mr. Reliable. Henry’s got all the talent. Keane delivers when it counts. Ask around the league and Henry’s still the man, but No. 2 on this list? He has two rings and is coming off 22 all-competition goals last season. Oh, and the other guy is an MVP who just tied a record for goals in a season … so there’s that.

4. Seattle Sounders’ Eddie Johnson

5. Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio

6. Vancouver Whitecaps’ Darren Mattocks

7. Montreal Impact’s Marco Di Vaio >
How can this guy be this low (some will ask)? Five goals in 17 games last season, 10 goals in 37 during his final year in Italy, and the guy turns 37 in July. You tell me which direction this line’s heading.

8. FC Dallas’ Kenny Cooper >
Eighteen goals argues Cooper should be higher, but there’s also an argument to leave him off the list entirely. On a list that’s claiming Thierry Henry’s the best in the league, it’s reasonable to assume Cooper’s totals were significantly bolstered by the talent around him. How much were they helped? After his Henry-less year in Portland, Cooper wouldn’t have been on this list, and his time overseas wasn’t much more impressive.

9. Houston Dynamo’s Will Bruin >
Bruin proved in the playoffs that his abilities already transcend his numbers. He hasn’t put up a big goal total yet, but which of Dom Kinnear’s target men ever has?

10. New England Revolution’s Saer Sene

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

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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

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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

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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