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Sporting KC pulls away late v. CAI to advance to CCL quarterfinals

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It took 74 long, painful, never ending minutes. Then Sporting KC finally found the breakthrough.

Peter Vermes’ side kept the flame alive for MLS in the CONCACAF Champions League, pulling away late to rout Club Atletico Independiente of Panama, 3-0, on Thursday evening in Kansas City, Kan. Kristzian Nemeth scored a brace, including the opener with an assist from his fellow Hungarian, centerback Botond Barath. With the win, Sporting KC advances to take on Monterrey in the CCL semifinals.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

From the opening whistle, Sporting KC attacked the CAI defense, with Johnny Russell and Gerso dribbling in from the wings at their opposing defense. However, goalkeeper Jose Guerra was equal to the task, leading to a frustrating first half and first 25 minutes of the second half. Sporting KC had six shots, eight corner kicks and 74 percent possession in the first half.

That “74” number though was key, as it was when Sporting KC finally got on the board. A corner kick was lofted into the box, where Barath jumped highest and headed the ball down, into the mixer. Nemeth reacted quickest and rifled a shot past Guerra in for a goal. With that goal, Sporting KC were tied on aggregate but would advance on away goals, meaning that CAI had to push forward a bit to find a goal of their own.

CAI’s push up the field left spaces out wide yet again for Sporting KC to exploit. After Gerso missed a wide-open chance and had another called back for offside, he finally made CAI pay. Gerso launched an attack forward and crossed the ball in from the left. It found its way to Russell, who tapped it to Roger Espinoza for the easy finish in the 81st minute

In a similar play in the 86th minute, Sporting KC put the game beyond reach with a Gerso cross that was slotted home by Nemeth.

Atlanta win second leg, crash out of CCL (video)

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Atlanta United restored some pride in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal tie on Wednesday.

But they are the latest Major League Soccer side to crash out of the competition.

ATL beat Liga MX’s Monterrey 1-0 thanks to a late Josef Martinez goal, as Frank De Boer‘s men lost 3-1 on aggregate in their debut season in the campaign.

After the game, ATL captain Michael Parkhurst revealed that the reigning MLS Cup champs are hugely disappointed.

“We need to learn from it. We’re disappointed not to advance,” Parkhurst said. “It is a very difficult tournament coming at the very beginning of the season for us. We have to take the experience and build off of that for next year.”

Below is a look at the highlights from the clash, as Atlanta had plenty of chances but failed to advance to the semifinals, as Liga MX teams have now got past Atlanta, New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo over the past few days. Mexico’s Monterrey, Santos Laguna and Tigres have all made it through to the semifinals.

Sporting Kansas City are the only MLS team left in the CCL, as they play against Panamanian side Independiente on Thursday.


CCL roundup: RBNY’s comeback falls short; Dynamo gone, too

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The odds were long — as they tend to be for MLS teams this time of year — but that didn’t stop the New York Red Bulls from making things interesting before they were eventually throttled by Santos Laguna in leg no. 2 of the sides’ CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal tie.

[ MORE: USMNT roster unveiled as Pulisic, European stars return ]

The final result was anything but surprising; it was the path by which the Red Bulls arrived at their 6-2 aggregate defeat that was most shocking. Chris Armas’ side went from 2-0 down to level at 2-2 after just nine minutes in Torreon, Mexico. Omir Fernandez and Daniel Royer bagged goals in the 4th and 9th minutes, respectively.

The game’s final 81 minutes would see the Red Bulls take just two shots, putting exactly one on target. Predictably, the comeback halted dead in its tracks at 2-2, though they were at one point fewer than 20 minutes from forcing a penalty shootout.

Then, they conceded a goal in the 72nd minute. And the 76th. And the 79th. And the 81st.

Elsewhere in Mexico, Tigres refused to play with the same fire as Santos and finished off the Houston Dynamo with relative comfort and ease. Carlos Salcedo bagged the second leg’s only goal in the 68th minute to make it 3-0 on aggregate and to set up a mouth-watering clash between the two Liga MX sides in next month’s semifinals.

The hopes and dreams of an entire league now rest largely on the shoulders of Sporting Kansas City, who have a 2-1 deficit to overturn at home against Panamanian side Independiente, and to a much lesser extent Atlanta United, who come home trailing Monterrey 3-0.

CONCACAF Champions League roundup: MLS 0-4 in 1st legs

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Major League Soccer’s four CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinalists require second leg comebacks to find places in the semifinals after Sporting KC and Atlanta United lost on Thursday.

[ MORE: Saief, Corona join MLS ]

The New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo both lost 2-0 at home on Tuesday, while Atlanta and KC were on the road for the following setbacks.

Independiente de la Chorrera 2-1 Sporting KC

Peter Vermes’ men were considered MLS’ best bet heading into the round, and remain so after collecting an away goal in Panama.

Sporting mainstay Ilie Sanchez converted a 51st minute penalty kick to level the score line after Romeesh Ivey gave Independiente a halftime lead.

Alexis Corpas restored Independiente’s advantage heading back to Sporting KC.

Vermes’ men face the Philadelphia Union in league play before the second leg next week.

Monterrey 3-0 Atlanta United

A pair of late goals took Atlanta’s poor night to a level of despair as the Liga MX hosts gained a three-goal advantage without conceding an away goal to the Five Stripes.

Atlanta was outshot 17-5 and managed just a single shot on target despite Frank De Boer starting a threatening front three of Josef Martinez, Pity Martinez, and Ezequiel Barco.

And here’s your exclamation point:

CONCACAF Champions League: Red Bulls, Houston beaten at home

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Some days the bounces just don’t go your way, even at home.

Major League Soccer sides New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo both failed to take advantage of home first legs, falling behind in CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal ties against Liga MX opposition.

[ MORE: England wins SheBelieves Cup ]

Sporting KC and Atlanta United give MLS its next hope of semifinal berths, beginning first legs on Wednesday.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 UANL Tigres

The offense didn’t materialize for the hosts, who got a pair of nice saves from Joe Willis but couldn’t keep the visitors off the board off 90 minutes.

Enner Valencia registered a goal and an assist, while Julian Quinones also scored and Luis Quinones had an assist to put Houston in a bad place headed back to Tigres.

New York Red Bulls 0-2 Santos Laguna

Despite a 14-10 edge in shots on a frigid evening in Harrison, N.J., Chris Armas’ Red Bulls could not collect any goals and gave themselves a heck of a hill to climb next week in Torreon.

Six saves from Jonathan Orozco make him the easy Man of the Match, as Santos Laguna scored three minutes before and after the break.