MLS Preview: Real Salt Lake at New York Red Bulls

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  • RSL’ eight-game unbeaten run is over
  • Salt Lake are 3-0-3 in last six games vs. New York
  • April 18, 2009, last time New York beat RSL

It will be a very tasty clash between these two at Red Bull Arena on Saturday, there’s no doubt about that.

Real Salt Lake head to New York top of the West and have the best record in MLS, while the home side are hoping they can make ground on first-placed Sporting KC in the East.

Last time out RSL were involved in a controversial clash with Sporting KC, as Chris Wingert was sent off and a late Ike Opara goal handed Jason Kreis’ side their first defeat in nine.

While New York couldn’t score against a stingy Toronto outfit and succumbed to a disappointing 0-0 tie up at BMO Field.

So both will hope to get back to winning ways.

Kreis’ squad has been hit heavily by the Gold Cup, with veteran ‘keeper Nick Rimando, defender Tony Beltran and captain Kyle Beckerman all on duty for the US. This clash is also intriguing as former RSL stars Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave will be facing up against their old team. They were part of a double trade over the offseason that raised plenty of eyebrows around the league. This game is the only time the two sides will meet this season, so Olave and Espindola will have to put past friendships to one side and do battle.

For New York, they desperately want to record a win against RSL after not tasting success in their previous six matches. They’ve lost three in a row to Salt Lake and have won just three out of the 15 games all-time. If the Red Bulls do manage to grab all three points, they’d be just one point behind SKC in the Eastern conference standings. New signing Bradley Wright-Phillips may feature for New York.

The game is available to watch on MLS Live at 7pm ET on Saturday.

What they’re saying

New York head coach Mike Petke on RSL: “They have a system that they play that Jason [Kreis] has been working on for years and he has the right players in there so that when they do miss key players they have players to step right in and they don’t miss a beat. They’re very organized behind the ball, they like to come very narrow in the midfield and possess the ball, get numbers up to play the ball around you, and they have outside fullbacks that like to get forward and are a danger up top whoever it is, [Alvaro] Saborio, [Robbie] Findley. These guys are fast paced players who have a nose for the ball.”

Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill: “They’re scoring their goals and obviously not conceding a lot but there they seem to get the edge on a lot of teams but you know for us we’re very good at home. We put on a great performance against Montreal and you know the pressure was on then, so I suppose it’s up to us to step up to the challenge again.”

New York’s captain Thierry Henry: “For me, since I have been in this league, Salt Lake has been the best team by a distance. But as you know here you have to win the MLS Cup. You know if it was in any other league, Real Salt Lake would have been champions this year, like in terms of consistency.”

RSL’s Ned Grabavoy on the loss to Sporting: “I thought we were in a good spot there until the red card. We were up 1-0 and thought we were playing really well, for the most part. Things were tight in the back. We were in a good position until that point. Obviously it was under tough circumstances. On a different night we probably walk out of here with a point, but we don’t. So we need a reaction next week.”

Prediction

This could be the time for the Red Bulls to pounce and have yet another marquee win at home. They absolutely battered Montreal at home two weeks ago, and with a weakened Salt Lake side and a long trip cross-country, the Red Bulls may finally break their jinx against Jason Kreis’ side. That defeat to Sporting KC was demoralizing and RSL must react positively. It will be a huge battle, but Henry may have something special up his sleeve to decide this one.

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

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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