Honduras squad falling apart ahead of clash with U.S.

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When the U.S. Men’s National Team plays Honduras in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in Salt Lake City next Tuesday, the away side will be much more patchwork than originally thought.

It was already known that Honduran center back Muma Bernardez would be suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

This morning, they’re dropping like flies.

It’s come out that Bernardez’s defensive partner Maynor Figueroa will miss the clash due to injury, per Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy:

The Figueroa injury isn’t any real surprise – he hasn’t featured in months since injuring his groin in April playing for Wigan.

However, the surprises are coming. Telemundo’s Andres Cantor is reporting via Twitter that Revolutions striker Jerry Bengtson has left the team for undisclosed reasons and will not take part in the U.S. match:

A report on MLSsoccer.com has suggested Bengtson was so furious at being left out of the team’s 2-0 win over Jamaica that he had a spat with manager Luis Fernando Suarez, and then left the team on his own for Boston when the rest of the squad made a flight connection in Houston on their way to Salt Lake City.

Finally, Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated has reported that Houston Dynamo midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia could also miss the match with an injury:

Bernardez, Bengston, and Boniek Garcia all started in the 1-0 loss to Costa Rica last Saturday.  Bengtson, however, did not play in their 2-0 win over Jamaica on Tuesday, while Boniek Garcia grabbed both goals. Bengtson was the only Honduran to score when they last faced the United States, a 2-1 victory for the Stars and Stripes.

The U.S. team shouldn’t really make too many changes if any regarding this news, but it’s a positive for the home side ahead of a hugely important match.

Three points would give the U.S. nine of a possible nine points during this round of qualification matches and would put them in an absolutely wonderful position atop the hexagonal group with almost guaranteed qualification only 4 matches from the finish.

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