Getty Images

Swansea City 0-0 Middlesbrough: Draw helps neither relegation candidate

Leave a comment

In these desperate times, a single point does neither side much good at the moment, and both Middlesbrough and Swansea City will feel disappointed to have finished goalless at the Liberty Stadium.

The home side was more consistently incisive as Gylfi Sigurdsson was dangerous on a number of occasions, but they failed to put significant distance between themselves and the relegation zone. Middlesbrough had a moment to win the game in the final seconds, but Rudy Gestede missed an open header, and they still has a significant gap to close for safety.

Both teams early on looked to pump crosses into the box for their strikers. Swansea had the better possession in the opening 10 minutes, with Martin Olsson and Jordan Ayew having attempts on net, the latter of which tested goalkeeper Victor Valdes for an awkward save.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Middlesbrough had a spell of great play minutes later, as they ripped off a host of shots, many of which forced brave blocks from the Swansea defenders. After good work from Adama Traore, one shot struck the forearm of defender Alfie Mawson, but his block was legal with his arm in a natural position.

New Boro manager Steve Agnew was forced into a change when Gaston Ramirez went down with an ankle problem in the 38th minute and could not continue, as the visitors brought on Rudy Gestede as an attacking presence. The game devolved as it crept towards halftime, with hardly a chance on net for either team after the opening few minutes, and it reached the break without a goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Out of halftime, Swansea was the better team going forward. Martin Olsson thrashed a ball across the face of goal in the 56th minute but nobody was there to meet it. Sigurdsson forced a big save from Victor Valdez in the 64th minute with a brilliant bit of technical ability to work a wonderful curling effort on net.

Middlesbrough was forced into a second change when Fabio appeared to lose conciousness after an attempt to head the ball under pressure. The Boro medical staff was shown clearly restraining Fabio from coming back on the field against the player’s wishes, instead requiring a substitution.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Sigurdsson went close again with five minutes remaining on a free-kick from just outside the box as the Swans continued to push men forward. Boro clung on for dear life, and were lucky on numerous occasions not to be reduced to 10 men as referee Bobby Madley let a high number of dangerous challenges go unpunished. The worst of which came with three minutes left after Gestede, already on a yellow, went in studs up on Tom Carroll, but he stayed on the field after a long chat with the referee, he was let off the hook likely because Carroll was able to avoid the otherwise ugly challenge.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Swansea came so close as Luciano Narsingh seemed in on goal with a minute in regulation, but he was forced wide by Valdez who came off his line and couldn’t get a shot off. Middlesbrough had one last chance to nick a win against the run of play as a brilliant ball from Negredo that met the head of Gestede, but he put it agonizingly wide.

The point for the Swans moves them one above the rest of the relegation zone, with Hull City having moved level on Saturday with a win. For Middlesbrough, they still have four points between themselves and Hull, mired in the midst of a relegation scrap.

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

@KingZyen
Leave a comment

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
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 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.”