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Player ratings from the USMNT’s 1-1 draw with Venezuela

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The United States failed to beat a non-powerhouse on home soil, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some very good performances from Bruce Arena’s men.

[ RECAP: USMNT 1-1 Venezuela ]

Who starred, and who slipped? Read on…

Starting XI

Tim Howard — 8 — Two outstanding saves on a rocket shot and its ensuing corner made up for a goal he didn’t have much hope of stopping anyway.

Jorge Villafana — 8 — Saved the U.S. bacon in the first half, helped prod the play that started the equalizer, and had an all-around lively day.

John Brooks (Off 56′) — 7 — When he pairs with Cameron, the Yanks have one of the strongest passing center back duos this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Geoff Cameron (Off HT) — 7 — Perhaps the steadiest player in the Yanks’ frustrating first 45 minutes

DeAndre Yedlin (Off 90′) — 6 — Lively first half with a hiccup that could’ve cost the Americans a goal.

Michael Bradley — 6 — A very bad turnover that didn’t lead to anything, but overall quiet and orthodox in the center of the park.

Fabian Johnson (Off 63′) — 5 —  Sloppy night overall, wasting a good scoring chance and positioning himself poorly on the Venezuela goal.

Darlington Nagbe (Off 70′) — 6 — He’s a hard man to judge, as he does 2-3 things per game that make you sit up… only to disappear for swaths of time. A terrific dribble through the heart early in the match.

Christian Pulisic — 8 — He’s the best attacker on the team. He’s also 18.

Bobby Wood — 6 — Some moments of promise and trademark grit, but overall missed his chance to make a difference on the scoresheet.

Clint Dempsey (Off 63′) — 5 — Wasn’t his night, and it had nothing to do with effort. Perhaps being one goal away from matching Landon Donovan’s all-time mark got to him.

Substitutes

Omar Gonzalez (On HT) — 6 — A quiet night for the former LA Galaxy man, and he needed one of those in the U.S. kit.

Matt Hedges (On 56′) — 7 — Confident, steady… the man many of us expected to see should he get the chance.

Kellyn Acosta (On 63′) — 6 — Passing was a bit off, but he remains a fun prospect when played properly in the center of the park.

Tim Ream (On 63′) — 6 — Missed a difficult but finish-worthy chance in close, but defended well.

Jordan Morris (On 70′) — 5 — A little overeager and scattershot in a limited role.

Graham Zusi (On 90′) — N/A

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