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MLS at Week 6: Atlanta meets Toronto in giant East clash

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While many of last year’s top sides continue their reign near the top of the MLS conference tables, newcomers Atlanta United have quickly put themselves on the national spotlight. Here’s a look at this weekend’s action:

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

LA Galaxy vs. Montreal Impact – 10:30 p.m. ET Friday

Neither side has had the ideal start to 2017, however, it’s the Impact that are still searching for their first win as MLS enters Week 6. The Galaxy are coming off of allowing four goals to the Vancouver Whitecaps, while the Impact look to bounce back quickly after being eliminated in the CONCACAF Champions League against Tigres.

Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew – 2 p.m. ET Saturday

Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s debut couldn’t have gone better for the Fire but Veljko Paunovic’s side didn’t get their desired result. The Fire will welcome one of the hottest teams in MLS to start the season in the Crew, who have appeared to find their form from 2015, when the Eastern Conference side finished runners’ up to the Portland Timbers in MLS Cup.

New England Revolution vs. Houston Dynamo – 2 p.m. ET Saturday

The Dynamo have been one of the season’s biggest surprises thus far, and the club’s attack has proven to be among MLS’ best through five weeks with 11 goals. Erick “Cubo” Torres leads the league with six goals of his own, while the Dynamo continue to play without dangerous winter signing Romell Quioto. The Revolution have picked up their act over the last two weeks with a win over Minnesota and draw in Portland.

D.C. United vs. New York City FC – 4 p.m. ET Saturday

D.C. picked up its first win of 2017 last week against the Philadelphia Union, while NYCFC managed to pull off a comeback victory at home against a difficult San Jose Earthquakes side. David Villa’s two goals and three assists thus far have paced the NYCFC attack but it is the team’s backline that has stepped up its game from a season ago.

Philadelphia Union vs. Portland Timbers – 7 p.m. ET Saturday

The Timbers remain atop the West following last weekend’s draw against the Revs. Meanwhile, the Union have struggled out of the gates and are one of three teams in MLS that have gone winless over the first month of competition.

Toronto FC vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday

In arguably the game of the weekend, these two Eastern Conference sides will duel at BMO Field in Toronto. Since Atlanta’s opening day defeat against the Red Bulls, the expansion side hasn’t lost and they have looked quite impressive in the process. Even without top goalscorer and March’s Player of the Month, Josef Martinez, Gerardo Martino’s side has quickly become one of MLS’ most dynamic attacks.

FC Dallas vs. Minnesota United – 8 p.m. ET Saturday

Fresh off of the team’s first MLS victory, Minnesota faces a much more challenging test as the Loons head to Toyota Stadium to meet FC Dallas. The Loons are coming off of a four-goal outing against Real Salt Lake, but Dallas presents a stronger foe as Oscar Pareja’s side sits third in the West after playing three matches.

Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – 9:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Even with an early season coaching change, RSL’s struggles have coupled after falling last week to Minnesota United. Meanwhile, the Whitecaps fell out of the Champions League during the week after losing in the dying moments to Tigres after having scored four goals against the Galaxy last weekend.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders – 10:30 p.m. ET Saturday

The Sounders are unbeaten in this matchup since September 2015, winning once and drawing twice in the last three meetings. Brian Schmetzer’s side will continue to be without Brad Evans defensively, while the Quakes will be missing a number of players, including Victor Bernardez, who is suspended after picking up a red card last week against NYCFC.

Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls – 4 p.m. ET Sunday

The Red Bulls have hit a bit of a rough patch after last weekend’s thrashing suffered down in Houston, while the Lions are coming off of their first loss of the season. Jesse Marsch’s side has enjoyed success against Orlando since the club entered the league in 2015, winning three of the last five matchups.

Sporting KC vs. Colorado Rapids – 7 p.m. ET Sunday

Peter Vermes’ side is now just one of three left unbeaten in MLS, and although Sporting KC’s attack has had some issues finishing off its chances, the Western Conference side’s backline has been among the league’s best, only allowing one goal. The Rapids have been steady as well through three matches with four points.

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