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Mexico, US fight for Jesse Gonzalez’s committment

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When US Soccer released its 2017 Gold Cup preliminary roster at halftime of the friendly against Venezuela on Saturday night, perhaps the most surprising name on the 40-man list was FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez.

The 22-year-old MLS starter has been playing in the Mexico international youth setup for years, selected for the 2016 Olympics but failing to make an appearance behind team captain Alfredo Talavera.

Fox Soccer analyst Stuart Holden tweeted on Saturday evening that he had talked to Gonzalez’s agent, who confirmed that if Gonzalez makes the final 25-man roster, he is ready to play for the United States. If Gonzalez does indeed see time in the Gold Cup, he would become cap-tied to the United States.

But then, a twist from Holden in the early hours of Sunday morning:

So, it seems Mexico has issued an ultimatum to the United States. Should they call Gonzalez up for the Gold Cup, he’s theirs. However, if they leave him off, Mexico would likely call him up soon, leaving the goalkeeper with a decision to make.

The United States is not hurting for goalkeepers, even with Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, and Nick Rimando all reaching the latter stages of their careers. Ethan Horvath is thought of as one for the future, but was left off the Gold Cup roster, likely to take time to earn a place at Club Brugge. D.C. United’s Bill Hamid has been on the fringes of the senior team for years, but is having a down season in MLS comparatively. Cody Cropper spent time at Premier League club Southampton before coming to the New England Revolution. Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono has been to USMNT camp before, but has not made an appearance. Still just 20 years old, Jonathan Klinsmann performed well at the 2017 U-20 World Cup. Still, to have Gonzalez – born in Edenton, North Carolina – would be a big plus for the United States, both to add him to the pool and keep him away from Mexico.

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

“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