Drilling down on: Portland 0, at Houston 0

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Troy Perkins and a resolute Portland Timbers defense stood in the way of a second straight home victory for the Houston Dynamo.

 

Man of the Match: As 0-0 score lines sometimes indicate, the match was ultimately a test of defensive stamina. Houston Dynamo right back Jermaine Taylor grew in influence as the game wore on. A timely intervention late in the second half preserved the Dynamo’s clean sheet. Taylor also sparked several attacking sequences from deep downfield. He may not be a natural outside back, but he sure looked like one tonight.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • The Dynamo are coming off a grueling run of fixtures that includes three games in seven days. The rigors of the congested schedule seemed to have had an effect on some of the players’ performances tonight. Brad Davis was at his creative norm early on, but ran out of gas around the hour mark. Despite the fatigue, the team closed out the match strong, albeit without a goal.
  • It was the opposite scenario for Portland in terms of build-up. John Spencer’s side arrived at BBVA Compass Stadium following a 10-day layoff and looked fresh from the start. The team relied on quick transitions and short lateral passes. The attack never quite seemed to come together, however, despite the best efforts of nippy forward Darlington Nagbe. Portland found some success out wide, but too many crosses were left unattended.
  • Portland outside back Steven Smith had a very serviceable outing. Smith’s accurate service from open play and set pieces was one of the Timbers’ most potent – if not fully maximized – weapons on the night.
  • Wastefulness in front of goal wasn’t just Portland’s problem; the Dynamo also struggled to finish off promising chances. Troy Perkins’ goal area hosted several hard-fought aerial battles, but the Dynamo’s ensuing headers were typically off target.
  • Calen Carr produced a near-man of the match performance. The audacious right-sided midfielder put in a shift on both ends of the ball. Around the 70th minute, Dominic Kinnear instructed Carr to share forward duties with Brian Ching. The late switch seemed to reinvigorate the Dynamo’s attack, even though the all-important goal remained elusive.
  • Mamadou Danso and center back partner Hanyer Mosquera defended deep and did well to limit the Dynamo’s chances in front of goal. Danso achieved persona non grata status in the 80th minute, however, when he appeared to hack down Carr on the edge of the penalty area. The match official judged that Danso had indeed gotten some of the ball, but the partisan crowd certainly voiced its disapproval.
  • Speaking of which, the Dynamo faithful came out in full force. It was the second game and first night match at newly-christened BBVA Compass Stadium. The unseasonably cool weather served as a nice contrast to Saturday’s warm conditions. The lack of goals didn’t appear to dampen the atmosphere one bit.
  • Both coaches can come away pleased, if not fully satisfied with their teams’ performances. The Dynamo coped well with players’ undeniable fatigue. Portland stood its ground but couldn’t produce the killer pass or shot on the other end. Really, the only thing missing from this one was goals.

CCL: Toronto wins; Wild Herediano comeback

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On a single-digit Tuesday that severely limited the attendance at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where the Colorado Rapids and Toronto FC dueled in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Jonathan Osorio’s second half goal put the Reds in front and Sebastian Giovinco had a goal and an assist and the visitors take a 2-0 decision back to Ontario.

The best chance of a preseason quality first half saw Dominique Badji flub the best chance of the stage into the feet of Alex Bono.

Toronto took the lead, nabbing the away goal through Osorio’s header of a Sebastian Giovinco cross. And the Atomic Ant got on the board with a goal of his own off an Auro assist with 17 minutes to play.

[ MORE: Georgia teen heading to Schalke ]

Tuesday’s other first leg saw Herediano and Tigres play to a 2-2 draw in Costa Rica, with the Liga MX visitors taking a pair of away goals but shocked by a pair of stoppage time concessions.

Francisco Meza scored in the 15th minute and Lucas Zelarayan seemingly put it to bed with 15 minutes to play.

But Yendrick Ruiz converted a 90th minute penalty kick before ex-DC United forward Jairo Arrieta did this ahead of the Feb. 22 second leg in Mexico.

Another American heads to Schalke: Zyen Jones

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Schalkamerica?

Bundesliga mainstays Schalke have added yet another American, this one 17-year-old Zyen Jones of Atlanta United. Jones is a forward with the U.S. U-17 national team.

Like Josh Sargent, who signed his deal with Werder Bremen on Tuesday, he’ll head overseas and sign a pro contract on Aug. 25, his 18th birthday.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Jones will join several potential USMNT teammates in Gelsenkirchen, including injured senior team midfielder Weston McKennie and youngster Nick Taitague (19). Forward Haji Wright is on loan at Sandhausen.

Report: Simon Dawkins making move to Minnesota

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The Loons are taking a flier on Simon Dawkins.

The London-born Jamaican international hasn’t done a ton since returning to MLS from Derby County, and turned 30 over the offseason, and Paul Tenorio says the player is on his way to Minnesota United.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Dawkins scored 14 goals between 2011-12 with San Jose, but scored just five times in his return to California and was blanked in 14 appearances last season. He registered just 10 shots in those matches.

The left winger would join an attack with Christian Ramirez, Kevin Molino, Ethan Finlay, and a pair of Generations Adidas forwards: Abu Danladi (2017 SuperDraft) and Mason Toye (2018).

Champions League Weds. preview: Sevilla-Man Utd, Shakhtar-Roma

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Jose Mourinho says Manchester United is one round away from having legitimate hopes of winning the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

That makes the Round of 16 tie against Sevilla — beginning Wednesday in Spain — a bit of a dream qualifier for the Red Devils.

“I normally say that Champions League dreams start around the quarter-finals and not yet in the last 16,” Mourinho said on ManUtd.com. “Last 16 still looks a long way to go. When a team reaches the quarter-finals, I think it’s the moment where even the teams that are not favourites – which is our case – they start realising that anything is possible.

The injury-hit side got a bit of a boost on Tuesday in Sevilla, where Paul Pogba, Antonio Valencia, Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera all trained ahead of the first leg.

As for the hosts, manager Vincenzo Montella admitted that he hopes Pogba won’t play, and joked that he’d prefer to tie up and “padlock” Alexis Sanchez in a bid to defend against the Chilean star.

The final Round of 16 tie to start will be Roma’s pairing with Shakhtar Donetsk, with the first leg taking place in Ukraine.

Shakhtar hasn’t played in some time, but the great equalizer is the bitter cold at Donbass Arena, where the temperature is set to be between 21 and 28 degrees Fahrenheit come kickoff.

Don’t worry, Roma fans, Daniele De Rossi is busy breathing fire into any teammates angling for excuses:

“The cold weather could affect things a little because we’re not used to it but at the end of the day it comes down to how well you perform out there. We must be mentally ready from the get-go because the cold might hit us in the opening minutes.

“If it was that much of a factor, these teams would win the Champions League every year. You don’t go through because of the weather.”