Defenders just can’t give up chances. Over the course of 90 minutes, great attacker are going to generate enough opportunities on their own. Teams can’t afford to have individual mistakes make it easier for the opposition.
That’s why those errors get judged harshly in PST’s weekly awards. When DeAndre Yedlin gets caught on the ball in the first half against Sporting Kansas City, a mistake that lead to a chance within seconds, it’s was enough to knock him to honorable mentions in our first Team of the Week. As strong as Yedlin was in week one, if you had a whole back line making similar errors, you’d give him far more good chances than similar defenses. Mistakes tend to outweigh the series of smaller contributions defenders make throughout matches.
That’s what made this week’s Player of the Week honor so difficult. San Jose’s Víctor Bernárdez was certainly the weekend’s big hero, scoring twice in Saturday’s final 30 minutes to help pull the Earthquakes even with the league’s best team (spoiler alert), but he also played a part in two big Real Salt Lake chances. When Joao Plata’s feint bought the RSL forward extra time ahead of his team’s second goal, it was Bernárdez’s lack of effort to get back in position that allowed the Ecuadorian to exploit the space closer to the spot. And in the second half, Álvaro Saborío beat the Honduran badly on a ball that ended up off the base of Jon Busch’s post.
At the other end of the field, however, Bernárdez more than made up for those mistakes. The 2012 Defender of the Year assisted on Chris Wondolowski’s sixth minute opener. In the 75th minute. his headed finish off a set piece pulled San Jose within one, while his 95th minute winner through a desperate RSL defense earned the Earthquakes a 3-3 draw.
All of which still makes his choice as Player of the Week a skeptical one. Jermaine Defoe had two goals in Seattle, but he also was allowed to click it into cruise control for 67 minutes. Seattle’s part in his brace meant his level of difficulty was low. Maurice Edu and Michael Bradley had strong days in their respective midfields, while Bernárdez teammate Shea Salinas may have been the best player on the field at Buck Shaw on Saturday. Consider the San Jose winger a close second this week. (Even as I type this, I want to give Salinas the award.)
Ultimately, we couldn’t ignore Bernárdez. It’s not just that he scored goals. They were big goals, scored against the best team in the league – a team that’s going to make other defenders look back this season. In a week were there was no clear Player of the Week winner, Bernárdez Goonie-ism serves as the tiebreaker.
This season’s Player of the Week winners:
||Will Bruin, Houston Dynamo
2g, 1a vs. New England
|Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
8 saves, PK save at LA
||Victor Bernardez, San Jose Earthquakes
2g, 1a vs. Real Salt Lake
|Jermain Defoe, Toronto FC
2 goals at Seattle
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.
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 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.
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
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE