MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 4-1 Seattle Sounders

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One game, 100 words (or less): Bradley Wright-Phillips’ chances of history received a huge boost Saturday night, with his team’s playoff hopes rising along with them. With three goals before the hour-mark, MLS’s leading scorer pushed his team to a 4-1 victory over visiting Seattle – a win that ensures last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners will stay in the East’s top five for at least one more week.

Wright-Phillips opened the scoring in the first minute, though it would be another 52 before the New York sniper added his second of the night from the spot. On a counter attack in the 56th minute, Wright-Phillips scored his 24th goal of the season, leaving him three short of MLS’s single-season scoring mark.

A quick swap of goals by Clint Dempsey and Tim Cahill provided the night’s final pieces of excitement, with a Seattle team that made major chances from its mid-week U.S. Open Cup triumph falling hard at Red Bull Arena.

Goals:

New York: Wright-Phillips 1′, 53′, 56′, Cahill 65′
Seattle: Dempsey 61′

Three moments that mattered:

1′ – 29 seconds – Any fear Seattle had over-rotated its team were emboldened after 29 seconds, when Stefan Frei’s block of an Ambroise Oyongo shot gave New York’s leading scorer a chance from eight yards out. Forgotten moments earlier by a Seattle’s defense, Bradley Wright-Phillips was rewarded for initially setting up Oyongo, putting the rebound into the open net to give New York a ridiculously early lead.

53′ – Inexperience shows – Dylan Remick showed promise earlier this season when he was starting ahead of Leo Gonzalez, but after beating beaten by Lloyd Sam in the 53rd minute, the 23-year-old showed he’s not beyond a few rookie mistakes. As Sam, near the byline, turned toward the middle of the penalty area, Remick made a desperation lunge, taking out Sam just inside the box. Wright-Phillips fired his spot kick past Frei to give New York a two-goal lead.

56′ – Not Djimi’s night – Djimi Traore had a strange moment in the first half. Running under a long ball from Luis Robles, Traore kicked Wright-Phillips in the backside after desperately trying to compensate for his error. It’s not often that you see a defender run himself into position to kick an opponent in the butt.

It was the start of a bad night. Just before the hour, with Seattle having just gave up a second goal, Traore failed to adjust as Wright-Phillips drifted away from Chad Marshall. As New York countered down its left, Roy Miller played a long, diagonal ball between the defense and goal, one that saw Traore in no position to contest Wright-Phillips’ third goal.

Later, after Seattle had reduced the lead to two, a poor clearance by Traore allowed Tim Cahill to put his name on the scoresheet, a ball played right to the Australian international allowing him to finishing inside Frei’s right post.

Lineups:

New York: Robles; Duvall, Olave, Sekagya, Miller (Christenson 84′); Sam, McCarty, Alexander; Oyongo; Henry (Stevenson 92′), Wright-Phillips (Cahill 58′)
Seattle: Frei; Anibaba, Marshall, Traore, Remick; Neagle, Rose, Alonso (Pineda 80′), Pappa; Cooper (Dempsey 60′), Barrett (Martins 59′)

Three lessons going forward:

1. Depth’s nice, when you don’t have to use it all – Yes, Seattle over-rotated, but perhaps Sigi Schmid felt it was necessary. Maybe the Seattel staff felt it was worth risking a loss to reduce the minutes for five or six of his regulars.

Regardless, the Sounders’ depth didn’t hold up. Though the team looked fine for much of the first half, mistakes that distinguish first choice players from useless depth cost Seattle. The Supporters’ Shield race could tighten up.

2. Djimi Traore looks done – Traore was a valuable addition at the beginning of last season, but he was one of the culprits as Seattle lost to Portland in the playoffs. This season, Zach Scott seems to have won the spot next to Chad Marshall, though if there was any lingering feeling a healthy Traore should start, tonight said otherwise.

3. BWP within reach – Three goals in five games is a lot, but after his third hat trick of the season, Wright-Phillips is on pace. Averaging one goal every 88.9 minutes this season, Wright-Phillips’ needs just under three games to tie the record, at his current rate. If Wright-Phillips stays on his season-long pace, Roy Lassiter and Chris Wondolowski will lose their spots in MLS’s record book.

Where they stand now:

  • With the win, New York has a three-point lead on fifth place Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference. Should Columbus hold on to beat New England, New York’s lead on fifth goes back down to one.
  • For Seattle, this is a game to forget, mostly because the team continues to control its Supporters’ Shield destiny. The Sounders remain three points up on the Galaxy, and after LA’s done with Dallas tonight, Seattle will again have a match-in-hand.

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

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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