Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

UCL Wednesday preview: Arsenal to the Allianz Arena; Red-hot Napoli meets the champs

Leave a comment

Day 2 of the Round of 16 falls on the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, after PSG buried Barcelona 4-0 and Benfica edged Borussia Dortmund in Portugal.

[ MORE: PSG-Barca recap | Di Maria gushes ]

Wednesday finds Arsenal in Germany and Napoli at the Bernabeu. The second legs will both be held on Wednesday, March 8.

Bayern Munich vs. Arsenal

How they got here: Arsenal edged PSG for the top spot in Group A, while Group B Bayern lost to Atletico Madrid and Rostov in finishing second.

History: Traded results in last season’s group stage, though Bayern walloped Arsenal 5-1 at the Allianz Arena. Bayern has won five, drawn two, and lost thrice against the Gunners this century.

The plot: Arsenal has made the Round of 16 in 11 straight seasons but hasn’t earned a quarterfinal berth since 2009-10. Bayern won in 2012-13, and is bidding to win Carlo Ancelotti a UCL title with his third club (AC Milan, Real Madrid).

The subplot: Germany and Bayern legend Philipp Lahm is retiring after the season and the club would be overjoyed to put him out on top; Meanwhile Arsenal is sticking with No. 2 goalkeeper David Ospina over Petr Cech.

Real Madrid vs. Napoli

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, centre, celebrates a goal with teammates Marcelo, right, and Karim Benzema during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Granada at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017. Benzema and Ronaldo scored one goal each in Real Madrid's 5-0 victory. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

How they got here: Madrid drew three matches and finished behind Borussia Dortmund in Group F. Napoli edged Benfica to win Group B.

History: Real defeated Napoli 3-1 over two legs in the 1987-88 European Cup.

The plot: Real is looking to become the first time since mid-1970s Bayern Munich to win three European Cups inside of five seasons (Bayern won three-straight), while Napoli is looking to assert itself in Europe with a first big title since the 1988-89 UEFA Cup.

The subplot: Real is one of four Spanish clubs left in the tournament, and will hope to restore some pride after Barca was waxed by PSG; Napoli hasn’t lost in 18 matches stretching into late October, and will feel ripe to upset the champions.

CCL: Toronto wins; Wild Herediano comeback

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment


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
Leave a comment

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

Martin Rickett/PA via AP
Leave a comment

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.”