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Jermaine Jones is a soon-to-be free agent who wants to stay in MLS

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The Colorado Rapids’ 2016 season ended on Sunday, a 3-1 aggregate defeat to the Seattle Sounders the final chapter for the most surprising team in the league, which means Jermaine Jones has perhaps played his final game for the club.

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Last-place finishers in the Western Conference in 2015, the Rapids acquired Jones from the New England Revolution in March, paying him a measly $650,000 for the season (down from $3 million the year before), and enjoyed the same immediate uptick in form and results as the Revs experienced upon Jones’ arrival in the summer of 2014.

When on the field (suspension, injuries and international call-ups cost him 25 games in 2016), Jones proved himself a key contributor for yet another MLS Cup contender, even as a 35-year-old. With free agency looming, Jones knows he’ll have options scattered throughout the world, but he’s hoping to remain in MLS, perhaps even in Denver — quotes from the Denver Post:

“People know that I came to this league as a (designated player) and this is where I want to go back to. I’m a free agent now. I will sit back and see what comes. I’m not scared to go back to Europe or scared to go to Mexico or somewhere.”

“This season was special. My situation was completely different before the season and I said, ‘I don’t care about money,’ and I come and I want to play and I want to show people that I can be an impact player.”

It’s hard to envision an MLS team giving Jones another DP contract in 2017, considering the salary-cap implications (the DP salary charge will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $450,000 next year), considering he only played in nine regular-season games in 2016.

[ MORE: Klinsmann out | Arena back in as USMNT boss ]

With Bruce Arena the new head coach of the U.S. national team, it remains to be seen whether or not Jones’ international career comes to an end. If Jones doesn’t figure into Arena’s plans going forward, perhaps it would behoove all parties involved for Jones to sit out the winter and spring months before signing a half-season deal, which will almost surely garner a bigger payday, in an effort to maximize his minutes and impact over a shorter period of time.

No matter what he does, or where he goes, an interesting offseason lies ahead. Jones, for one, is excited.

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