MLS Roundup: Seattle wins battle of conference leaders; Rapids, Union, and LA teams claim wins

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Major League Soccer may have officially returned on Friday night, but Saturday’s six-match slate marked the true end to the league’s World Cup break. Unfortunately for those in attendance in Columbus, weather and near-tragedy reduced the number of five, but amongst those matches was a battle between teams at the top of the league’s conferences.

That game kicked off the day’s action in Washington, D.C., where the Sounders beat Ben Olsen’s team at its own game. Elsewhere, Philadelphia made its new coach’s debut a winning one, Carl Robinson’s lineup games cost him in Colorado, while Erick Torres’s Goal of the Year candidate sunk visiting RSL.

Capping off the night, the California Clasico went to the LA Galaxy, but with over 50,000 people showing up at Stanford Stadium, Earthquakes management was still given reason to smile.

Here’s what happened on Saturday night in Major League Soccer:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYBvuX6penk]

D.C. United 0-1 Seattle Sounders

The MLS break did nothing to slow down the league-leading Sounders, who put D.C. United’s formula for success to work for themselves at RFK Stadium. With a first half goal from Chad Barrett and a defense that held the Eastern Conference co-leaders to two shots on target all night, Seattle rendered large deficits in possession (66-34, D.C.) and shots (14-5) meaningless. Unable to break the Sounders down, D.C. was handed their second home loss of the season.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTWm4o-9tdM]

New England Revolution 1-3 Philadelphia Union

That Revolution team that looked like the league’s best earlier this spring? It may be gone, even if New England still appeared dangerous at times going forward against Philadelphia. But that couldn’t prevent a major José Gonçalves error just before half time from gifting Philly the lead. With second half goals from Danny Cruz and Sebastien Le Toux (his second of the night) the Union were able to exact revenge for the 5-3 defeat they suffered to New England six weeks ago, using a lineup that featured Maurice Edu in central defense, Amobi Okugo in midfield, and Brian Carroll on the bench, to give interim boss Jim Curtin his first win as an MLS head coach.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=el6d7RKQmYE]

Colorado Rapids 2-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

When Dillon Powers is on and getting help from Vicente Sanchez and Deshorn Brown, the Rapids’ attack goes from pedestrian to potent. In the first half against visiting Vancouver, that potency emerged, with Powers hitting the woodwork three minutes before giving the Rapids a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute. In the 35th minute, after Brown drew a penalty, Sánchez converted his fifth of the season from the spot, finishing the day’s scoring before Carl Robinson could get Gershon Koffie, Darren Mattocks, or Kekuta Manneh on the field. (Manneh, curiously, never got off the bench.)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjx848dyR-k]

Chivas USA 1-0 Real Salt Lake

A match of two moments was defined by 10 minutes before halftime when a wonder strike from Erick Torres* left the visiting Western Conference champions down a goal and a man, with a ninth minute, studs-up tackle from Luke Mulholland reducing RSL to 10 in the ninth minute. Though Jeff Cassar’s team would hold a huge possession edge throughout the match (57 pct.), they only put two shots on Dan Kennedy, with Jeff Attinella needing seven saves (and some help from Chris Schuler) to keep RSL within one.

* – With the goal, Torres passed Cuauhtémoc Blanco to become MLS’s all-time leader in goals by a Mexican-born player (17).

San Jose Earthquakes 0-1 LA Galaxy

From our snapshot:

In front of 50,006 at Stanford Stadium, San Jose’s attempts to leverage Steven Lenhart fail to pay off, with a series of chances in the air against an Omar Gonzalez-less defense allowing the Galaxy’s single goal to stand up. Finishing into the top of Jon Busch’s net in the 62nd minute, Gyasi Zardes delivered full points for the Earthquakes’ visiting rivals, giving LA a 1-0, California Cup victory in Palo Alto.

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

Adam Davy/PA via AP
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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

Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images
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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