Warner’s early red, Dwyer’s two goals see Sporting Kansas City cruise at Montreal

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In the middle of three games in eight days, Frank Klopas had to prioritize. He couldn’t have his whole team playing both legs of the club’s Canadian Championship semifinal as well as today’s match against Sporting Kansas City. That’s why, come kickoff today at Stade Saputo, a back four averaging 23 years of age was tasked with stopping the defending champions, with Jed Brovsky, Wandrille Lefevra, Karl Ouimette and Maxim Tissout asked to forget the fact Montral had already given up four goals to Sporting earlier this season.

Thanks to an early red card to Collin Warner, Klopas never got a real chance to evaluate his young defenders. Instead, he saw an already out-gunned team play at a numeric disadvantage for 73 minutes. With two goals from Dom Dwyer sandwiching Paolo Nagamura’s first half tally, Sporting claimed its second victory of the season over Montreal, the 3-0 result keeping Peter Vermes’ team at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Here’s the early, match-changing foul:

Did Warner forget where he was? Perhaps thinking he was in the middle of the field? Because it appears as if the Montreal midfielder was trying to pull a trick you’d see elsewhere on the field, grabbing the ball to stop play after you’ve gone down. Instinct probably took over, but how do players develop instincts that lead to fouls like this. Unless you’re Luis Suarez against Ghana, decisions like this rarely pay off.

Dom Dwyer converted the ensuing spot kick for this fifth goal of the year, giving Sporting a lead it’d double by halftime. In the 34th minute, Paulo Nagamura finished far post from the left of goal, eliminating what little uncertainty remained after Warner’s red card.

Given Kansas City already routed Montreal once this season, the result is less surprising than how it happened, yet the contrast between Sporting’s 11-on-10 performance and that of New York last week at Dallas makes for an interesting comparison. Granted, Dallas is a much better team than Montreal, but playing up a man in Frisco, Tex., the Red Bulls struggled, having to rely on a goal in transition from Bradley Wright-Phillips to claim full points. Had Blas Perez converted his early second half penalty kick, the result could have gone the other way.

Sporting, on the other hand, played 11-on-10 as if it spent most of the preseason practicing the scenario. The team’s passes were quick, assured – almost rehearsed. On one first half sequence, a ball fed to Graham Zusi above the defense’s left channel saw the U.S. international turned to play it wide as the ball was still on its way. With nobody within three yards of him, Zusi’s body language portrayed a man executing a step in a recipe the team knows by heart. Within 17 minutes of the red card, Sporting had put the match away.

As a result, Sporting will stay at the top of the Eastern Conference. Montreal, meanwhile, turns its attentions to midweek, when FC Edmonton visits Stade Saputo.

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