A large and loud contingent of fans of Mexican soccer team Monterrey went home cold but happy from Children’s Mercy Park on Thursday evening. Their team took a 5-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City to advance to the finals of the Concacaf Champions League tournament.
Kansas City was clearly playing to win. After resting a few regulars against Cincinnati on Sunday, manager Peter Vermes put out his top-tier lineup, starting Johnny Russell, Krisztian Nemeth and Gerso Fernandes across the front.
Sporting needed a big win to overcome the five-goal deficit incurred in the first semi-final leg in Monterrey last week. When Gerso scored in the 6th minute off a cross from Johnny Russell, it looked like they might get it.
Monterrey answered in the 20th minute on a counter attack, and they answered again after Gerso scored in the 29th minute. Vermes said after the game that the first goal “deflated” his team.
Monterrey goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero saved a Kansas City penalty kick just before the half to keep the score 2-2.
Kansas City threatened in the opening minutes of the second half. Seth Sinovic headed a ball into goal that was called back for being offside, and Johnny Russell had two near misses.
The Rayados (Striped Ones) controlled the later stages of the game, picking up three more goals to close out Sporting’s longest Champions League run.
Vermes had a mixed evaluation of his team after the game.
“I think some guys played really well,” he said, “and I thought our mentality was good going into the game.
“You just can’t give up soft goals like that. We did that twice against this team and that hurt us.”
Sporting will face a quick turnaround, returning to MLS League play with a home match on Sunday at 6 p.m. against the New York Red Bulls.