Sporting Kansas City cruised into the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory at Deportivo Toluca FC on Thursday night, claiming the club’s first-ever win on Mexican soil to take the Round of 16 series 5-0 on aggregate.
Gerso Fernandes struck in the eighth minute and Krisztian Nemeth bagged a 62nd-minute penalty at Estadio Nemesio Diez as Sporting became the first American team in the 57-year history of the Concacaf Champions League to beat a Mexican club in a two-legged series with the second leg played in Mexico.
The comprehensive defeat of Toluca sets up a date between Sporting and Panamanian side Independiente, who will square off in the Champions League Quarterfinals on March 5-7 and March 12-14. Sporting will play host at the decisive second leg.
Single-game tickets for the second leg of the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals between Sporting Kansas City and Panamanian club Independiente at Children’s Mercy Park, scheduled for March 12-14, will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at SeatGeek.com. Tickets for the contest are included in Sporting Kansas City season ticket member packages.
Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes fielded an unchanged lineup from last Thursday’s dominant showing in Kansas City with the intent of safely navigating the highest-elevation match in club history.
Toluca’s Estadio Nemesio Diez is perched at an altitude of 8,750, and the fans in attendance were nearly treated to a breakthrough goal by the hosts after just three minutes. A Pablo Barrientos corner kick was firmly met by Antonio Rios, but his snap header caromed off the underside of the crossbar and Roger Espinoza ushered clear.
Los Diablos Rojos paid for their missed opportunity five minutes later when Espinoza turned provider with a gorgeous diagonal pass over the top to Fernandes. The winger settled the ball on the left side of the box, swiftly beat defender Rodrigo Salinas and tucked low past goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera for his second goal in as many matches, giving Sporting an invaluable road goal and a mountainous 4-0 aggregate edge.
The early strike instilled Sporting with confidence, and the visitors pinged the ball around the field with a palpable coolness for the remainder of the half. Winger Johnny Russell almost doubled the lead in the 18th minute, playing an intricate one-two with Nemeth, but his ensuing shot from a tight angle was kick-saved by Talavera. Nemeth tried his own luck off a Felipe Gutierrez layoff shortly thereafter, but Toluca’s keeper was again up to the task.
The final chance of the first period fell to 20-year-old Diego Abella, who was unable to grab a goal back for Toluca with a bouncing header that flashed well wide off an Alan Medina cross.
Interim Toluca manager Jose Luis Real, who took the helm following the dismissal of Hernan Cristante on Monday, made five personnel changes to the Red Devils setup from last week’s first leg, but the Mexican outfit remained second-best. Sporting continued to control proceedings and effectively put the series to bed just past the hour mark.
Not to be outdone by Fernandes, Nemeth also found the back of the net for the second straight game. The Hungarian forward swiveled neatly at the top of the penalty area, drove into the box and was deliberately hauled down from behind by Adrian Mora. The center back received a straight red card for denying an obvious scoring opportunity, and Nemeth heaped further misery on Toluca with a brilliant spot kick into the upper right corner of the net.
Daniel Salloi replaced Russell as a 66th-minute substitute and nearly added to the blowout with a 20-yard drive that rattled the woodwork. Four minutes later, fellow Sporting substitute Erik Hurtado unleashed a side volley that grazed the outside of Talavera’s right-hand post.
Toluca’s bid for a consolation goal was rebuffed in the 85th minute when Santiago Garcia’s curling delivery was headed marginally wide by Brian Rubio. The Red Devils would end the game without a single shot on target as Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia picked up his second consecutive clean sheet.
An impressive ousting of Toluca will give Sporting plenty of confidence heading into Sunday’s MLS season opener against star-studded LAFC.
Vermes’ side will travel from Toluca to Los Angeles on Friday ahead of the high-profile encounter at Banc of California Stadium, which will air live nationally on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 7:30 p.m. CT. Listeners can also follow the action on Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM as Sporting kick off their 24th campaign in Major League Soccer.
- Story from Sporting KC
Kansas City Kansas Community College will open its home baseball season Friday, as host of Marshalltown (Iowa) Community College in a doubleheader starting at noon.
The two teams are also scheduled for a twin bill Saturday but those games are in doubt because of expected extremely cold weather. The Blue Devils are 5-5.
- From Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
A winter storm watch will be in effect 6 p.m. Saturday through 3 p.m. Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. (National Weather Service graphic) The area could get a significant amount of snow over the weekend. (National Weather Service graphic) On Monday, it will be dangerously cold. (National Weather Service graphic)
A winter storm watch has been issued for 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, through 3 p.m. Sunday, March 3, according to the National Weather Service.
The weather service said Wyandotte County get a total of 3 to 6 inches of snow with this weekend storm.
Travel could be very difficult, according to the weather service, with blowing snow adding to the problems and reducing visibility.
Also, temperatures will drop significantly on Sunday, with a low of 0 forecast on Sunday night, according to the weather service.
Today, the temperature was 30 degrees at 9 a.m., and the temperature will rise to a high near 41, the weather service said. A light and variable wind will become south southeast around 5 mph.
Tonight, the low will be around 20, with a light north northwest wind becoming north 5 to 9 mph in the evening, according to the weather service.
Saturday, the high will be near 31 with a north wind of 8 to 10 mph, the weather service said.
Saturday night, a 100 percent chance of snow is in the forecast, mainly after midnight, according to the weather service. The snow may be heavy at times. The low will be around 16 with a north northeast wind of 10 to 13 mph, gusting as high as 23 mph. About 2 to 4 inches are possible on Saturday night.
Sunday, there is a 70 percent chance of snow, mostly before noon, the weather service said. The high will be near 17 with a north wind of 13 to 15 mph, gusting as high as 24 mph. From 1 to 2 inches are possible.
Sunday night, it will be mostly clear, with a low of 0, according to the weather service.
Monday, it will be sunny with a high near 16, the weather service said.
Monday night, it will be mostly clear, with a low of 7, according to the weather service.
Tuesday, it will be sunny with a high near 24, the weather service said.
Tuesday night, it will be mostly clear with a low of 9, according to the weather service.
Wednesday, it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 38, the weather service said.
Wednesday, night, there is a 40 percent chance of snow, with a low of 27, according to the weather service.
Thursday, there is a 40 percent chance of rain and snow, with a high near 41, the weather service said.
For more weather information, visit www.weather.gov.