Sunderland manager is “one of the few” not worried about Jozy Altidore

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Gus Poyet knows American striker Jozy Altidore did not have a good season at Sunderland. He isn’t going to shy away from that, nor could he with the 24-year-old scoring exactly one Premier League goal and two in all competitions for the Northeast England club.

But in an interview on SiriusXM’s “The Football Show,” Poyet insists he’s “one of the few” who is relaxed when it comes to Altidore.

He loves the Yank’s shot, attitude and effort, and can’t explain why Altidore is having more success for the United States than his club team.

Some Poyet quotes, courtesy of MLSSoccer.com’s Andrew Wiebe:

“I don’t know if it’s when you feel that you are a main player. I don’t know if the pace of the game with the national team is different than England,” Poyet said. “I don’t, I don’t know. Something is, of course, not working for us with Jozy.”

“Every game he came on, he gave us a hand – at Stamford Bridge is an example. He was always trying his best,” Poyet said. “Unfortunately, the goals didn’t come for him. But I am relaxed because if you see the power he’s got, if you see the shot – he can shoot, I can tell you that, because I see him every day. It’s just that momentum, that click that is going to be for him so important.

“But I’m quite relaxed with Jozy, to be honest. I’m one of the few. I know it’s difficult for a striker when he doesn’t score, but I like him. I like him. I like him as a boy and I like him as a player. He just couldn’t find the net. Sometimes it happens. You change clubs, and you cannot do it at one club for whatever reason.”

Of course, the reasons — or excuses, for naysayers — are plentiful. Altidore joined a newer league where it’s harder to score than the goal-happy Eredivisie. It’s also likely that it’s easier to score in CONCACAF than it is in the Premier League as well.

But it’s good to hear that Poyet isn’t having massive doubts about Altidore, especially when a strong World Cup can buoy the forward, well, forward. If the striker can come back to the Stadium of Light in fine form, it sounds like Poyet won’t be hesitant to deploy his American target man.

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.”