US/Portugal game could see heat index tease 100; More Manaus criticism

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Criticism of Manaus as a venue for the 2014 World Cup is heating up again, due mostly to the relatively-horrible conditions being experienced by players.

This is what happens when you put a stadium in the rainforest, and now it’s set to hit the players of United States and Portugal.

The heat index for the game is set to hit 99 or more when the two nations play their pivotal second match of the tournament on Sunday.

From Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel:

Sunday’s game will be in the city of Manaus, which is in the remote heart of the Amazon rain forest, just 214 miles south of the equator. It promises playing conditions that will exceed even the difficulties of Natal and has coaches, players and the international soccer union screaming about the potential risk to the athletes after the opening game there between Italy and England drew universal condemnation.

“At times it felt like [I was] having hallucinations due to the heat,” Italian star Claudio Marchisio said after defeating England 2-1.

Criticism of staging four World Cup games in Manaus is not new. Few understood why Brazil would make the distant city of nearly two million a host site when it lacked a stadium and reasonable infrastructure. Being reachable only by plane or riverboat, it is a challenging and expensive place for fans to visit.

FIFPro, the international players union, is basically begging for cooling breaks during matches in Manaus. FIFA currently only allows such stoppages if the temperature rises about 90 degrees, ignorant of factors such as humidity, shade and time of day.

Italy’s coach called the conditions for his nation’s 2-1 win over England “ridiculous”, and Jurgen Klinsmann’s crew is set to experience them in a few days time. A game of such import is set to be played in a thick stew, and it’s a sticky situation.

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

Halted World Cup flip-throw heard around the world

AP Photo/Sergei Grits
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Milad Mohammadi knew the time was right for something special, but special isn’t always good.

And good is a subjective term. Cause to us this is very good, Milad.

The Iranian national team defender failed with a flip-throw bid in the final moments of a 1-0 loss to Spain on Wednesday at the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

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

And this wasn’t like he illegally flipped or broke some other rule. No, like a kid trying an audacious jump into the deep end, Akhmat Grozny star Mohammadi just bailed and climbed in from the side (so to speak).

The kiss, the look skyward, the headbutt… all integral parts of a wonderful World Cup moment.