Swansea City sack manager Michael Laudrup, current player Garry Monk takes charge

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On Tuesday Swansea City announced they had sacked manager Michael Laudrup.

Laudrup, 49, has been in charge for less than two full seasons at the Liberty Stadium, as he led the Welsh club to a ninth placed finish during the 2012-13 season and won the club its first-ever piece of major silverware by lifting the Capital One Cup in his debut season.

But after a faltering second season in charge of the Swans, Laudrup leaves South Wales with his former team just two points off the relegation zone and out of form after just one win in their last 10 Premier league matches.

“It is a decision we have taken reluctantly,’’ Swansea City chairman Huw Jenkins said on the clubs website. “But it’s a decision made in the best interests of Swansea City Football Club and our supporters. It is the first time in nearly 10 years that the club has parted with a manager in this way, but we had to remove the constant uncertainty surrounding the club and Michael’s long-term future with us.”

SWANSEA CITY vs. CARDIFF CITY, WATCH LIVE ON NBC, SATURDAY, 12:30pm ET

Rumors have persisted in recent days that Laudrup was on borrowed time at Swansea, with the Danish manager winning just 34.5 percent of his his 89 games in charge of the Swans since he took over in June 2012. However after delivering Europa League soccer, and Swansea are still in the knockout stages of the competition, his small squad struggled to cope with competing in European competitions during midweek as well as succeeding in the PL every single weekend.

Following the shock statement from the club, current player Garry Monk has been installed as the new head coach for ‘the foreseeable future’ alongside Laudrup’s assistant Alan Curtis, as the veteran Swansea City defender gets his first crack at management without any previous experience. Monk, 34, has played in all four divisions of the English leagues for the Swans after he moved to the Liberty Stadium back in 2004.

Monk is seen as a local hero by the fans, but he now has a mammoth task on his hands if he’s going to keep the Welsh side in the Premier League. First up for Monk is a massive clash, watch live on NBC this Saturday at 12:30pm ET, as Swansea host South Wales rivals Cardiff City in a relegation six-pointer at the Liberty Stadium.

Giving more details on the decision to sack Laudrup, Swansea felt it was the right time to freshen things up ahead of a monster relegation battle between now and May.

“I had a meeting with Michael today in a final attempt to support him and establish a way to improve the work of the backroom team to secure the results we need over the final 14 Premier League games,” Swansea Chairman Jenkins continued. “However, after thinking long and hard about the best way forward, I felt it was unlikely we would achieve a stable environment at the club to allow us to get back to basics and produce the performance levels that have served Swansea City so well over the last few years.”

Following the decision to axe Laudrup, a former Danish international who is still regarded as one of the most skillful players to ever play for European giants such as Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona, it does seem like a strange move to replace him with Monk who is still technically on the playing squad.

However Swansea’s approach has always been to promote from within the club, Monk is familiar with the setup after being with the team for 10 years, and will aim to use the resources already at the club to help steer the Swans to safety. Not many people saw this one coming, but no doubt Laudrup will be in another top job very soon in the Premier League or elsewhere in Europe.

Right now, his old club face a huge battle to stay in England’s top-flight.

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.”