Tracking MLS Most Valuable Player: Still a three-man race between Magee, Keane and Di Vaio

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1. Mike Magee:

Chicago took a big step toward the playoffs in Round 29 with a “six-pointer” win over New England, which, like the Fire, is scrapping away for one of those last playoff spots in the East.

That was No. 16 this year in league play for “Magic Mike,” still two off Marco Di Vaio’s league-leading pace.

But as we’ve said before, the critical element to consider as it relates to Magee MVP talk is this: The Fire has to make the playoffs for any real traction. Dwayne De Rosario is the only performer from a non-playoff MLS team to claim MVP, and it’s probably going to remain that way for a while.

In this case, there are two other wonderful choices, so Magee coming away with the big honor just won’t happen without a post-season appearance for the Toyota Park bunch.

2. Robbie Keane:

Truthfully, we should mark this list as 1, 1A and 1B in terms of their tracking for MVP. Because if Robbie Keane and Marco Di Vaio are not equals as potential choices, they are just a wee smidgen away from being so.

The Irishman is fourth in league goals (13) and third in assists (11), and no player can match his combined totals. His pace isn’t slowing one bit as the Galaxy jostles from playoff positioning: Keane had a goal and an assist in the team’s 2-2 weekend road draw at D.C. United. In fact, his offensive contributions would have been even greater but for two unusual booboos along the Galaxy back line, as three potentially huge road points devolved into a lone point.

L.A. has a huge match this weekend against Seattle; Keane doing something special in this one could propel him into the lead in this close-quarter, three-man chase.

3. Montreal’s Marco Di Viao

What is all this talk of retiring, Marco? Major League Soccer’s Golden Boot Winners have gone on to bigger, better things before, using a mighty season of league scoring as a launching pad for a move abroad. But to retire?

Yes, the man is 37. And of course he misses his family back in Italy. But … retire? When you continue to lead the league in scoring, now with 18 goals? Say it ain’t so!

By the way, 18 goals would have led the league at season’s in 10 previous MLS campaigns. So with just a little more continued production in Montreal’s seven remaining matches, we could be talking about something approaching a historically great scoring season. He probably won’t approach Chris Wondolowski’s record-tying 27 from last year, but even getting into the low 20s might be too hard for MVP voters to overlook.

Hazard, Lukaku help Belgium to rout

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Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard each scored a pair of goals and Michy Batshuayi also scored as Belgium clobbered Tunisia 5-2 in Moscow on Saturday.

Dylan Bronn and Wahbi Khazri scored for Tunisia.

Belgium leads the group ahead of England’s Sunday match against Panama.

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Romelu Lukaku led an early break that led to a Thomas Meunier shot collected by Tunisian keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha.

Eden Hazard won a penalty in the fifth minute, just inside the 18. He converted the chance low and to the right of Ben Mustapha.

Ben Mustapha was fortunate when Hazard’s 12th minute shot of a terrific Lukaku pass was substandard.

Lukaku then scored a beauty in the 16th minute, sent into the 18 by Dries Mertens, when he clinically slid a shot inside the far post.

Tunisia got a surprise answer a minute later, with three goals gracing the games first 18 minutes. Bronn turned a free kick past Thibaut Courtois and into the back of the net.

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https://twitter.com/TelemundoSports/status/1010498221116801024

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Belgium was knocking on the door for most of the half, and a wobbly Kevin De Bruyne missed Lukaku with a stoppage time cross which should’ve led to a third.

Lukaku got his third courtesy of Meunier a moment later.

Hazard scored his second after the break, and Youri Tielemans assisted Batshuayi’s marker to round out the scoring for Belgium. Ex-Sunderland man Khazri scored late for Tunisia.

VIDEO: Wild first half in Moscow sees Lukaku, Hazard on board

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Romelu Lukaku (2) and Eden Hazard scored for Belgium before Dylan Bronn answered for Tunisia, as dominant Belgium holds a 3-1 lead with three goals gracing the games first 18 minutes on Saturday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Lukaku led an early break that led to a Thomas Meunier shot collected by Tunisian keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha.

Hazard won a penalty in the fifth minute, just inside the 18. He converted the chance low and to the right of Ben Mustapha.

Ben Mustapha was fortunate when Hazard’s 12th minute shot of a terrific Lukaku pass was substandard.

Lukaku then scored a beauty in the 16th minute, sent into the 18 by Dries Mertens, when he clinically slid a shot inside the far post.

Tunisia got a surprise answer a minute later when Bronn turned a free kick past Thibaut Courtois and into the back of the net.

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

Lukaku would chip the keeper after Meunier played his perfect run to feet.

https://twitter.com/TelemundoSports/status/1010498221116801024

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Enrique has rare brain tumor removed, faces battle

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Former Newcastle and Liverpool defender Jose Enrique is now an agent, but the headache that came with a manager meeting had nothing to do with the conversation.

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Enrique had a “brutal” headache following a meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton, his former manager, and tests revealed a rare brain tumor (Spanish language link).

Enrique underwent brain surgery to remove the tumor and now faces 35 sessions of radiotherapy, only available in two European cities.

He lost more than a dozen pounds in a single week, calling it “the toughest time of my life.”

WATCH: World Cup, Day 10 — All eyes on Germany

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Many of the favorites in the 2018 World Cup have disappointed, but until Argentina fell 3-0 to Croatia on Thursday, Germany was the only one to suffer a defeat.

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Die Mannschaft fell to Mexico in their opening match, with El Tri carving up the German midfield on the counter. Now, Joachim Low has had ample time to make the adjustments needed to go for victory as the Germans take on Sweden as they chase a spot in the knockout stages among Group F.

Meanwhile, Mexico looks to prove they’re not a one-hit wonder as they take on South Korea in Rostov. Juan Carlos Osorio has received plenty of praise – and rightly so – for his tactics in the upset victory, and that leaves El Tri with a chance to clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a win.

Before all that Group F craziness, Belgium takes the field in the morning against Tunisia as they look to follow up its comprehensive 3-0 victory over Panama in the opening round. A victory for the Red Devils would not only book a place in the knockout round, but also eliminate Tunisia from contention.

Below is Saturday’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 – Saturday, June 23

Group F
South Korea vs. Mexico: Rostov-on-Don, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Germany vs. Sweden: Sochi, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group G
Belgium vs. Tunisia: Moscow, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE