Rodgers counting on early goals from Liverpool to bring out Manchester City nerves

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Brendan Rodgers will be over 30 miles from the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, but the Liverpool manager is still hoping his team can influence affairs in Manchester City. While the Citizens host West Ham United knowing a point will secure the club’s second league title in three years, Liverpool will be at Anfield, trying to get the three points from Newcastle that will make City’s result relevant.

On Saturday, Rodgers said he wants to do more than merely claim victory from the Magpies. With staff at the Etihad sure to have Anfield’s score in sight, Rodgers is hoping an early onslaught can put pressure on the leaders:

From reporting by The Guardian:

“It will be interesting if we make one of our quick starts and get up in the game. Then there’ll be a point when we’re up and City are drawing. It’s not nice when you know there’s another team playing that can win. When you know you have to not lose, it’s uncomfortable. It’s not over by any stretch of the imagination and West Ham are a really good defensive unit. Andy Carroll can score goals, they’ve got other players who can score goals and there will be a nervousness there.”

Early goals from Liverpool certainly can’t hurt, but given what City went through two years ago, the team’s unlikely to shaken by what happens at Anfield.

In 2011-12, Manchester City went into the final day knowing a home win against last place Queens Park Rangers would give the club its first Premier League title. As second place Manchester United won 1-0 at Sunderland, City was on the verge of handing the title to its rivals, trailing 2-1 in stoppage time to the 10-man Rangers. With goals in the 92nd (Edin Dezko) and 94th (Sergio Aguero) minutes, however, City completed one of the most important comebacks in Premier League history, winning the title as a result.

Nothing Liverpool can do will match the anxiety of being down at home, in stoppage time, to the league’s worst team, having given up the potential winner to a 10-man side … knowing that unless you scored twice in stoppage time, your crosstown rivals get the title.

Unless Liverpool makes up the teams’ entire goal difference (eight), nothing that happens at Anfield will phase Manchester City. They know what they need to do.

CCL: Toronto wins; Wild Herediano comeback

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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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

Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
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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.”