MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 2-1 Montreal Impact

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The game in 100 words (or less): The New York Red Bulls have all but clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference and the MLS Cup Playoffs home-field advantage that goes along with it. With a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Impact Wednesday night, their six- and eight-point leads on second-place D.C. United and fifth-place Toronto FC — the latter of which has a game in hand on United — are all but insurmountable with three games to play. Jesse Marsch’s side is also favorites for the 2015 Supporters’ Shield, given their four-point lead on FC Dallas, the only other team still capable of reaching 59 points or higher. The Red Bulls moved to 8-0 on the season when scoring first at home, riding a penalty kick from Sacha Kljestan and an elegant chip from Lloyd Sam to three points against a 10-man Impact side that got a late consolation goal from — who else — Didier Drogba.

[ MORE: MLS Team of the Week | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

15′ — Oyongo handles on the goal line, sees red — We all understand what Ambroise Oyongo was trying to do here, but let’s consider the following: You can either handle the ball on the goal line, get sent off and your team likely still concedes from the penalty spot, or you can let the ball go in and allow your team to keep 11 men on the field. Of course, in the moment it’s impossible to consider all of that.

39′ — Same chips into an empty net, 2-0 — This entire sequence could have gone better for Evan Bush. He could have won the 50-50 ball against Bradley Wright-Phillips; BWP’s blocked shot could have gone anywhere else inside Montreal’s half other than to Sam; and Sam could have gotten the finish wrong. Alas, BWP won the initial ball, the deflection went to Sam, and he chipped Bush expertly.

68′ — Drogba pulls one back from the penalty spot — Sam had to make some kind of challenge on Donny Toia at the back post, but a late, sliding challenge from behind probably wasn’t his best option. As it was, Montreal were awarded a penalty and Didier Drogba converted for his eighth of the season (eight appearances).

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Man of the match: Lloyd Sam

Goalscorers: Kljestan (PK – 16′), Sam (39′), Drogba (PK – 68′)

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

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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