Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sporting KC gets blown out in Mexico, knocked out of CONCACAF Champions League

Posted By on Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 11:31 PM

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After Wednesday night, it's easy to see why Major League Soccer teams haven't won a CONCACAF title in years. Cruz Azul, a top Mexican-club soccer team, displayed far greater skill on its way to a crushing 5-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City in the second game of their two-game playoff.

Cruz Azul won the series 5-2 on aggregate goals when counting Sporting Kansas City's 1-0 victory at Sporting Park last week. 

Sporting KC's loss means all MLS teams are out of the CONCACAF Champions League competition, which pits top clubs every year from Canada, United States, Mexico and Central America. The San Jose Earthquakes and L.A. Galaxy also got bounced from the competition by Mexican clubs this week. No MLS team has won a CONCACAF title since 2000. The competition has been normally dominated by Mexican teams, with the occasional victory by a Costa Rican squad.

Cruz Azul stepped on the gas pedal early in Wednesday's match in Mexico, scoring in the second minute of the game on a Mariano Pavone goal. Pavone would score again about 20 minutes later (and later pick up a hat trick) to give Cruz Azul a 2-0 lead in the game and 2-1 on aggregate. 

Sporting KC's Benny Feilhaber snapped a long-range shot past Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jose Corona just before the end of the first half, to bring the aggregate score to 2-2. (Sporting KC actually would have won if the aggregate score had ended in a 2-2 deadlock because goals scored in road games act effectively as a tiebreaker.)

So things looked good for Sporting KC coming in to the second half. That is, until their patchwork defense got picked apart by a skilled and technically superior Cruz Azul attack. Cruz Azul forwards toyed with a seemingly exhausted Sporting KC defense. Goalkeeper Eric Kronberg also got beat badly on a goal scored by Mauro Formica, which put Cruz Azul up 4-1 and placed the game well out of reach. Cruz Azul rang the bell for the fifth time Wednesday night on a goal set up by a string of headers that flummoxed Sporting KC's defense, which by then looked horribly inept.

By the end, even the normally dependable Graham Zusi was missing passes and misfiring ill-advised shots over the crossbar. His frustration was evident; he picked up a yellow card for jawing to the referees late in the second half. Fellow midfielder Oriol Rosell also earned himself a yellow card for screaming at a Cruz Azul player for some reason.

After Sporting KC won the MLS Cup championship last year, the club set its sights on winning the CONCACAF title this year. But now the team has one less competition to worry about.

It was a forgettable night for Sporting KC and a reminder that as far as MLS talent has come over the years, it still has a ways to go.


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