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Scoreless draw puts Sporting Kansas City through in CONCACAF Champions League

Oct 23, 2013, 11:33 PM EDT

Antony Lozano, Fabio De Souza, Chance Myers AP

The score ended 0-0, but Sporting Kansas City where firmly in control. They held almost 70 percent of the ball (68.8), allowed their opponents only 246 passes (to their 539), and limited Olimpia to 1 shot on goal. The only thing that would keep Sporting KC from claiming Group 2 was one of soccer’s spells of randomness, and on Wednesday night in Kansas City, it never came. Erik Konberg’s third shutout of the competition sent the Hondurans home empty handed, giving Sporting the group and a place in CONCACAF Champions League’s quarterfinals.

Sporting finishes group stage 2-0-2, claiming six of their eight points on the road. Olimpia, needing a win tonight to go through, finishes on seven, while Nicaraguan club Real Estelí’s only result was their 1-1 in Kansas City.

The result allows Kansas City to advance for the first time since 2002, when the competition was called the CONCACAF Champions Cup, but because of a low point total relative to the other group winners, they’re likely to get a tough quarterfinal draw. They’re currently the sixth of six qualified teams and are destined to face one of the three remaining Mexican clubs (Toluca, Cruz Azul, Tijuana) or LA Galaxy in the quarterfinals.

That’s the cost of settled for a draw, though Peter Vermes is unlikely to care. The Kansas City boss seemed to have defense on his mind in choosing a first choice back four behind Oriel Rosell and Laurence Olum in midfield.

Vermes didn’t shortchange, the attack, however, starting all of Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong, and Teal Bunbury. Unfortunately, the only times Sporting found goal were called back, with goals from Bunbury and Zusi waved off after offside calls.

Ultimately, those disallowed goals couldn’t stop Kansas City from advancing, becoming the second Major League Soccer side to clinch a space in the knockout round. Despite having one match remaining, the LA Galaxy have already secured a spot in the next stage, while the San Jose Earthquakes can do the same with a win Wednesday night over Guatemalan side Heredia.

But now, with their group stage over, Sporting now shift their attention back to Major League Soccer, where they can still claim first in the Eastern Conference as well as the Supporters’ Shield. A Saturday win in Philadelphia coupled by a New York stumble against Chicago will give them both.

  1. dreadpirate82 - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    I still don’t understand why Zusi’s goal got called back. In the stadium, no one could figure out what happened. I went home and watched the replay, and he was clearly onside. The announcers were baffled too. Shocking to see poor officiating in a CONCACAF match.

  2. tylerbetts - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    While winning the competition remains the biggest box to check off to show progress for MLS with respect to Champions League, I think it’s worth nothing that this result from KC last night, combined with San Jose’s result means that MLS is on the cusp of having four teams in the knockout stages for the first time. And, even better (in my opinion, at least) four US-based MLS teams.

    If it happens tonight – and, I really hope it does – those of us who are fans of MLS should celebrate a significant milestone.

  3. bobinkc - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    Sitting in the second row on a direct line with the farside linesman, Bunbury was very obviously onside when the ball was kicked. Apparently there is now a new definition of onside; to wit: the player must be in front of the back line when the ball LANDS instead of when the ball is kicked.

    We have always thought that Toledo and Salazar are the worst refs in the entire world, but this crew set a new low for pathetic.

    • dreadpirate82 - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      In person, I thought he was onside, but when I went home and looked at the replay, it looked like Teal was off. He didn’t look to be upset with the call either. That being said, the official made Toledo look like a top notch official.

    • schmittydidit - Oct 24, 2013 at 2:00 PM

      Bunberry was offside when CJ touched the ball. Zusi was clearly onside. Linesmen were awful last night (center not much better). On the Bunberry non-goal, the AR appeared to flag CJ, when he was clearly on.

  4. hildezero - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    @tylerbetts,

    “And, even better (in my opinion, at least) four US-based MLS teams.”

    That’s what I was trying to say last month, but people were bashing me because I said that and everybody was Americans.

  5. braxtonrob - Oct 24, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    Excellent job KC! Three down, one (Dynamo) to go!

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