MLS Combine Status Report: Six names who stepped up

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Day 2 of matches at the MLS Combine is in the books in Carson, California, and several players reinforced their stocks as top tier talents.

Some carried over their fine play from Sunday, while others took a step-up with their performances. Here’s who shined at the home of the LA Galaxy.

[ MORE: Day 1 Status Report ]

Niko Hansen, New Mexico —  It only take a moment to impress, and his goal in the second game was a cutback that fooled the center back and allowed him to hit a quick shot by the recovering goalkeeper. Big goals make impacts.

Daniel Johnson, Louisville — The West Ham man and Georgia native gave a Man of the Match showing in the first match, and he was pretty darn dangerous in this one. Could he have cemented himself as a Top Ten pick?

Napo Matsoso, Kentucky — Maybe we were watching the diminutive Lesotho native a bit closer following our profile piece on Monday — Read it here — but Matsoso was smooth on the ball and made good, quick, attacking decisions. It’s difficult to believe he won’t go in the first round.

Chris Nanco (Syracuse) and Guillermo Delgado (Delaware) — Smart runs, strong runs, and good instincts were on display by both attackers. Nanco’s a bit thicker and Delgado a bit quicker, but similar days.

Lalas Abubakar, Dayton — On a combine team that hasn’t given him much to work with, the big center back powered a fine header wide of the goal off a corner and showed solid positioning.

Zeiko Lewis, Boston College — He signed an MLS contract before the Combine, and it’s quite clear why. He’s simply a soccer player down to his core.

Honorable mention: Kwame Awuah (UConn), Brandt Bronico (Charlotte), Francis De Vries (St. Francis (PA)).

Follow @NicholasMendola

Another American heads to Schalke: Zyen Jones

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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 “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.”

Villarreal opens probe into Semedo’s reported arrest

AP Photo/Alberto Saiz, File
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MADRID (AP) Spanish club Villarreal says it is investigating the actions of defender Ruben Semedo after reports that he was arrested for a violent incident.

The club said it is “highly concerned” about the issue and “will take the appropriate disciplinary actions with utmost rigor based on the seriousness of the events.”

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

The statement was released after Spanish media reported that the Portuguese player was taken into custody early Tuesday for allegedly being involved in a hostile confrontation with another man last week.

Police did not immediately confirm Semedo’s arrest.