Sporting KC advances to Champions League semifinals

Midfielder Roger Espinoza knocked in a goal off a Johnny Russell cross to make the score 2-0 on Thursday night in a Champions League quarterfinal match at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Sporting Kansas City won the second leg of its Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinal match against Panamanian squad Club Atletico Independiente 3-0.

The win gave Sporting a 4-2 aggregate score over CAI and advances Sporting on to the semifinal round in early April.

Sporting was the more aggressive team from the start of the game. In need of at least one goal to have a chance at advancement, Kansas City pressed its attack. The attacking mentality showed up in 13 corner kicks from Johnny Russell, and 26 total shots for the game.

Runs down the right side from Johnny Russell and up the center from Krisztian Nemeth created scoring chances for the home team, but Independiente managed to parry all of Sporting’s attacks through the first 73 minutes. Goalkeeper Jose Guerra made several athletic saves to keep the game scoreless.

Nemeth opened the scoring in the 74th minute by knocking in a ball from six yards that was headed forward to him by defender Botond Barath.

Sporting added two more goals in quick succession, the first in the 81st minute by Roger Espinoza running up the middle and firing in a cross from Johnny Russell.

The final goal came in the 86th minute, again from Nemeth, who got a cross from the left by Gerso and pushed it inside the right goalpost.

The semifinal is the best showing by Sporting KC in its four Champions League appearances. Sporting is the only MLS team remaining in this year’s competition. Kansas City’s opponent in the semifinal will be Club Futbol de Monterrey, a member of Mexico’s Liga MX. The dates for the games have not been announced.

Kansas City will play away against the Colorado Rapids in MLS competition on Sunday, March 17.

Roger Espinoza celebrated after his goal in the 81st minute. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Fans bundled up against the chilling winds and drizzling rain. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Johnny Russell brought the ball into the center after a run down the right side. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Johnny Russell congratulated Krisztian Nemeth after his goal. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Fans in the south stands celebrated after Krisztian Nemeth’s 73rd minute goal. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Krisztian Nemeth took a shot from the right side. He scored two goals in the game. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Gerso Fernandes hurdled CAI goalkeeper Jose Guerra to avoid a collision. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Graham Zusi removed his stocking cap to give it to a fan in the stands. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

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