Tuesday's soccer news starts with the two clubs featuring USMNT players left in the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League. Christian Pulisic's Chelsea is a week away from their round of 16 series with Bayern Munich with Pulisic working towards match fitness. Tyler Adams strained his calf in training last Friday and is expected to miss RB Leipzig's Champions League first-leg against Spurs on Wednesday.
Both USMNT players are a rarity this season, with the group stage turning into a challenge for last season's semifinalists Ajax. Sergino Dest's team dropped to the Europa League along with Ethan Horvath's Club Brugge. Tyler Boyd's Besiktas, John Brooks's Wolfsburg, Timmy Chandler's Eintracht, and Romain Gall's Malmo all advanced to the Europa League knockout round.
For Adams, his return to fitness just before the Bundesliga winter break has given him time to show once again what he can do. He returned to a Leipzig team in contention in the Bundesliga and had no problem getting playing time. His injury isn't severe, and he could be back as early as this weekend. The home leg against Spurs is on March 10.
Meanwhile, RB Leipzig is in London looking for a result against another shock team from last season. Spurs made it to the all-Premier League final, resetting expectations for a club that finished 4th in the Premier League. This season, they're sitting 5th with critics pointing to those same expectations. With Jose Mourinho taking over as manager on November 20, the club is different than what it was during the Champions League group stage. That change may not be winning over all of its critics, but it's a challenge for RB Leipzig to work through.
"Tottenham are a top team and have a great head coach," Leipzig forward Timo Werner said. "Of course we know that the Tottenham Stadium is a great setting, and it'll be a great game of football. We're coming up against a team that will make it really difficult. But we're confident enough to put our own stamp on the game."
Tottenham is on a three-game win streak in the Premier League, shutting out 2nd-place Manchester City 2-0 at home on February 2. They returned from the brief Premier League winter break with a 3-2 win at Aston Villa on Sunday. Leipzig has only lost once in the Bundesliga since November, a 2-0 shutout at Eintracht on January 25. They drew 0-0 at leaders Bayern Munich on February 9 after drawing with 2-2 at home with Gladbach, the best team over the first-half of the season.
What this creates is a meeting of unlikely heavyweights. Spurs because of what they did last season and the belief that they're a work in progress under Mourinho. RB Leipzig because they continue to hold on within a point of Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga table.
Also in the soccer news, FC Cincinnati coach Ron Jans resigned following reports that he used a racist word in front of the team. Reports on the situation had Jans repeating a song lyric, something that the head of the MLS Players Association, Bob Foose, said was not accurate.
In a club statement, FC Cincinnati president Jeff Bearding said, "As Major League Soccer's investigation unfolded and some themes emerged, Ron offered his resignation, and we agreed that it was the best course of action for everyone involved with FC Cincinnati. We place the utmost importance on a strong culture within our club, beginning in our locker room, and that every person connected with FC Cincinnati feels valued, respected, and trusted. Racial and cultural diversity is a major part of what makes the game of soccer so special, and we place the highest priority on respecting every person involved in our game. This includes absolutely everyone associated with our club, from our locker room and front office, all the way through to our fans."
29-year-old assistant coach Yoann Damet returns as the interim coach, a position he held last summer after the club parted ways with Alan Koch. Jans took over on August 4, compiling a 1-5-4 record with Cincinnati finishing last in MLS. On Monday, the Cincinnati Enquirer's Pat Brennan reported that forward Darren Mattocks has legal issues in Pennsylvania, charged with felony "making a false, fraudulent or incomplete insurance claim and theft by deception."
SI.com's Brian Straus previews the Concacaf Champions League round of 16. MLSsoccer tries to pick a favorite. The LA Times' Kevin Baxter previews LAFC in the Concacaf Champions League with the focus on Carlos Vela.
The Guardian's Jonathan Liew predicts a significant response from Manchester City ownership over the club's European ban. The NY Times' Rory Smith looks at Atletico Madrid's situation in the Champions League and La Liga.
A few days back on February 15th, as many know, I suffered an ACL injury to my right knee that will take months to recover from. As of now it is still unclear on a timeline of events as we consult with doctors and physicians to figure out what the next best step is for.. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/RJ0sH2l03r— Paul Arriola (@PaulArriola) February 17, 2020
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