The MLS season openers are less than two weeks away, but for five teams, serious competition begins this week with the first legs of the CONCACAF Champions League’s round of 16.
In an intra-league skirmish Tuesday, new coach Anthony Hudson and the Colorado Rapids will host MLS Cup champion Toronto FC (10 p.m. ET, univisiondeportes.com), which believes it’s built to end the league’s long CCL drought.
“We are as equipped as any MLS team ever to win this competition,” TFC President Greg Manning said. “That’s the type of aspirations we have; we don’t want to sit back.”
Game-time weather in Commerce City, Colo.: 16 degrees, but it will feel like 10.
On Wednesday, FC Dallas will visit Panama’s Tauro (8 p.m., univisiondeportes.com), while on Thursday, the Seattle Sounders will travel to Salvadoran side Santa Tecla (10 p.m., univisiondeportes.com) and the New York Red Bulls will face Olimpia in a match moved to San Jose, Costa, Rica, because of unrest in Honduras (10 p.m., Univision Deportes, univisiondeportes.com).
The return legs are next week, days before the league openers.
>> In Europe, the third set of UEFA Champions League round-of-16 meetings arrive Tuesday with Besiktas visiting Bayern Munich (FS2, ESPN Deportes, Fox Sports Go, fuboTV) and Barcelona going to Chelsea (FS1, Fox Deportes, Fox Sports Go, fuboTV). Kickoff for both matches is at 2:45 p.m. ET.
Barcelona has lost once in 38 matches across all competitions since falling in the preseason Spanish Super Cup to Real Madrid: 19 victories and five draws in 24 La Liga games, four victories and two draws in the Champions League and 6-1-1 in Copa del Rey.
On Wednesday, Sevilla will host Manchester United and Roma will visit Shakhtar Donetsk.
>> Americans abroad:
Timmy Chandler scored the first-half equalizer in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-1 victory over RB Leipig, a result that pulled the club within a point of second-place Borussia Dortmund.
Zyen Jones, a 17-year-old forward from Atlanta United’s youth academy, will sign with Bundesliga club Schalke when he turns 18 in August. He’ll join three other Americans there: midfielders Weston McKennie (senior team) and Nick Taitague (U-19 squad) and forward Haji Wright, who is on loan at second-flight Sandhausen.
Timothy Weah, the 17-year-old American forward, is with Paris Saint-Germain’s U-19s for a round-of-16 home match against Barcelona in the UEFA Youth League.
>> Will U.S. national team prospect Tim Parker end up close to home with the New York Red Bulls? Multiple sources told the Insider on Monday that the Vancouver Whitecaps are weighing a trade of the center back, who is from Long Island and played at St. John’s University. Parker wants a pay raise after earning about $100,000 in his third season with the Canadian side last year. To acquire Parker, the Red Bulls would relinquish midfielder Felipe Martins (according to one source) or large amounts of allocation money (according to a different source).
>> The Colorado Rapids have acquired forward Joe Mason, 26, on loan from Wolverhampton. The news broke on the Insider’s Twitter page Saturday night, and during a conference call with reporters Monday, Coach Anthony Hudson confirmed the team had struck a deal, pending paperwork and visa approval. An official announcement could come Tuesday. Mason, 26, is the second Wolves player inked by the Rapids; last month, they purchased midfielder Jack Price.
>> For months, D.C. United shared images of the Audi Field construction from a camera outside the stadium. Now, it’s inside the venue, which will open in July:
>> The National Women’s Soccer League will release the complete 2018 schedule sometime Tuesday. Last week, the league announced the home openers for each of the nine teams. … The Washington Spirit posted its 31-player preseason roster. Training camp opened Monday at Maryland SoccerPlex, though several players are missing because of commitments with national teams or temporary clubs.