CCL Rewind: Monterrey too much once again for Sporting KC

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The odds were never in their favor.

Sporting KC scored two first half goals but they couldn’t defend against mighty Monterrey, falling 5-2 on the night and 10-2 on aggregate in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals. Monterrey showed what MLS is missing with clinical finishing on the counter attack and for the most part, strong, resolute defending.

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While the result was expected, after Monterrey’s thumping 5-0 first leg win, it showed that even when Monterrey had little to play for, they could still put one of MLS’ best teams to the sword.

Sporting KC opened the game with attacking vigor and it resulted in a pair of goals from Gerso. In just the sixth minute of the match, Gerso chopped home a cross from Johnny Russell on the volley to put Sporting KC in front on the night, and in the 29th minute, Gerso was quickest to the ball after a shot was parried towards him by Monterrey goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero.

But even with the goals and the forward momentum, Sporting KC had no answers for the likes of Rogelio Funes Mori, Aviles Hurtado and Rodolfo Pizarro. Funes Mori finished with two goals with Hurtado, Pizarro, and Miguel Layun each scored one goal.

The defeat, in embarrassing fashion, is another stark reminder of how far off MLS clubs are from those at the top of the Liga MX table. Last year’s CONCACAF Champions League final between even a struggling Chivas de Guadelajara side and Toronto FC showed that MLS was even a ways off in that battle. This time, it wasn’t even close.

It’s unclear what has to change moving forward. Should MLS start their season earlier? Should they allow for more DPs? Should teams be able to spend as much money as they want? Obviously, MLS has the long-term view on the growth of soccer, and it would be unwise to burn this shining star out quickly instead of creating sustained success. But without any changes, it will be more of the same as Mexican clubs continue to improve along with MLS sides.

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 preview: Long odds for 3 of 4 MLS teams

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Let’s start with a positive: Sporting Kansas City find themselves in a pretty strong position to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals when they host Panamanian side Independiente in leg no. 2 on Thursday.

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Now, the not-so-positive: the chances of any of the other three remaining MLS teams joining them — should Sporting KC get there themselves, even — are extremely poor.

Peter Vermes’ side trails 2-1 after last week’s first leg in Panama City, but the away goal secured from the penalty spot could prove vitally important when the two sides wrap up the tie at Children’s Mercy Park. Independiente were fully deserving of the home result, as they pressed and thoroughly frustrated a Sporting side that rotated eight of 11 first-choice starters from the weekend prior.

Ilie Sanchez got the away goal, from the penalty spot, which should give at least one MLS team a fighting chance to reach the final four.

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Reigning MLS Cup champions Atlanta United have, perhaps, the next best chance of going through — and matching wits with Sporting in the semis — if only for the fact that their first-leg defeat occurred away from home. They have, however, the largest deficit to overcome on Wednesday: 3-0, against Liga MX powerhouse Monterrey.

For much of the first leg, Atlanta trailed 1-0, until the floodgates gave way in the final 10 minutes and Monterrey opened up what could very well be an insurmountable lead. Throw in the fact that Frank De Boer‘s side have looked a far cry from Tata Martino’s final edition of the Five Stripes — the one that tore MLS to shreds en route to the league title in its second season of existence — and a Sporting v. Monterrey matchup begins to look the best possible reality for neutral viewers north of the border.

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Then, there are the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo, each of whom trail 2-0 and hit the road for the decisive leg, against Santos Laguna and Tigres, respectively.

Houston held firm for more than 75 minutes, and though a scoreless draw would have left them in an unfavorable position ahead of Tuesday’s second leg, 0-0 would have been preferable to 0-2. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, were completely played off their home field and never looked up to the challenge of what is arguably Mexico’s most prolific side.

Should a second MLS side join Sporting in the semifinals — heck, if Sporting get there themselves, it’ll be a minor miracle — it’ll be an epic night that no one will soon forget.

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.

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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 cruise, Monterrey survives

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It’s not a surprise that the New York Red Bulls handled their business in New Jersey considering how well they dealt with Atletico Pantoja in the Caribbean.

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More surprising is what happened in the other Wednesday match of CONCACAF Champions League play, where it took two penalty attempts for a Liga MX side to take care of a

Liga MX side Monterrey was held to a scoreless draw in El Salvador, and needed 86 minutes to find a break through at home to Alianza on Thursday.

The first attempt wasn’t enough, thanks to Alianza goalkeeper Victor Garcia.

That’s when Nicolas Sanchez converted a penalty to set up a meeting with the winner of Herediano and Atlanta United (United trails 3-1 after one leg).

Back to Red Bull Arena, where Sean Davis, Daniel Royer, and Andreas Ivan all scored for New York, who held a 2-0 lead after the first leg at Los Guerreros and cruised to a 5-0 aggregate victory.

The Red Bulls will meet Santos Laguna in the quarterfinals.