Klopp gives update on Mane ahead of Liverpool vs. Chelsea

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Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool is stuck in a rut.

Getting Sadio Mane back should help with that.

[ MORE: Payet slammed by Hammers ]

On Saturday Mane missed the decisive penalty kick against Cameroon as Senegal were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations 2017 at the quarterfinal stage.

Bad news for Mane internationally is good news for Liverpool as their lightning-quick forward, and top scorer this season, is on his way back to England and is in contention to play against Chelsea on Tuesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

If Mane can play some part at Anfield for the ailing Reds — Klopp’s side have lost three games at home in a week heading into this game — it will be a massive boost as they host the Premier League leaders knowing only a win will do to keep their fading title hopes alive.

“Ray Haughan and our team management did an outstanding job to bring him back as soon as possible and he is now on his way,” Klopp said. “We had the plane there but he was not allowed to go in the plane and we had to wait to get him from A to B. I spoke to him and it is all good so far. We will be in tomorrow morning and I will make a decision. I will have to look into his eyes and see if it is possible.”

Something else Klopp doesn’t know is possible is if his team can recover from a brutal seven days which has seen them dumped out of two cup competitions and suffer a defeat to then bottom of the table Swansea City.

With Liverpool the heavy favorites in all three of their recent home defeats to Swansea, Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Klopp knows his side will be underdogs against Chelsea on Tuesday as Antonio Conte‘s side looked to stretch their lead above Liverpool to 13 points and all but end the Reds’ title hopes for another season.

Klopp is staying positive despite the high stakes being obvious.

“It’s very important we build on the good things,” Klopp said. “Is it allowed to go for the best position in the Premier League? I really think we should try everything to make the best of the base we made. Stay positive. It’s possible we could qualify for Champions League.”

Despite all the early season euphoria surrounding this Liverpool team and their dynamic attack, there’s been plenty of talk about a second half of the season collapse with many questioning Klopp’s Gegenpressing tactics and the lack of a winter break in England impacting his team. That said, when you look at Mane’s absence, plus Joel Matip and Phillipe Coutinho missing, there has been plenty of adversity for them to battle through and quite frankly the likes of Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge and Ragnar Klavan (all of whom are classified as squad players) have struggled to plug the gaps and step up to the plate when needed.

Liverpool will need to be bold and brave to get a result against Chelsea on Tuesday. If they win they’ll blow the title race open again. If they lose, it’s game over for their own title hopes and it will be an uphill battle to regain momentum and challenge for the top four spot that Klopp and the Kop crave.

Finishing in the top four should have always been Liverpool’s main target this season. Now it’s the only target they have left. The pressure is on.

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.”