Skip to content

Home Grown fullback Kevin Ellis delivers Champions League victory for Sporting Kansas City against Cruz Azul

Mar 12, 2014, 10:06 PM EDT

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 6.50.22 PM

Sporting Kansas City’s choice to hold back some regulars from Saturday’s team that opened the Major League Soccer season paid off on Wednesday, with fullback Kevin Ellis’s early goal proving enough to hand the team a 1-0 CONCACAF Champions League win over visiting Cruz Azul. The victory gave the defending MLS champions a lead ahead of next week’s second leg in Mexico City, with La Machina suffering their first loss of tournament.

Ellis’s winner came in the 17th minute after play build down the right found the team’s nominal right back in the left of the penalty area. With his second touch, the 22-year-old Home Grown defender beat José de Jésus Corona inside the left post, the shot’s power pushing the ball past a goalkeeper who appeared to have his vision slightly blocked by one of his defenders.

The goal was part of a first half that saw Kansas City’s pressure cause troubles for Mexico’s leaders. Cruz Azul, unlike Toluca last night at San Jose, elected to start a full-strength squad in Kansas, yet a team featuring Marco Fabián, Joao Rojas, Mariano Pavone, Cristian Giménez and Mauro Fórmica couldn’t muster a meaningful threaten Eric Kronberg’s goal. With Claudio Bieler nearly putting the hosts up two in the middle of the period, Sporting took a deserved one-goal lead into half-time.

In the second period, however, Pavone nearly broke through early, with a ball played past a high line allowing the Argentine attacker to one-on-one with Kronberg. After rounding the keeper just inside the penalty area, Pavone saw a shot into a presumably open net blocked by Ike Opara, who had recovered to defend Kronberg’s abandoned goal.

Moments later, Cruz Azul had another potential equalizer saved off the line after the redirection of a corner kick forced Seth Sinovic to come up with the back line’s second save in as many minutes. The play was controversial, however, for a possible handball on Benny Feilhaber, with replays unable to conclusively show whether the U.S. international, standing near the goal line, had intentionally kept the ball out of goal.

Cruz Azul would continue to be the more controlling side throughout the rest of the game, though a late ball over the top of the Mexicans’ defense nearly gave Claudio Bieler a chance to double Sporting’s lead. A good read from Corona to come out of his area to clear the ball prevented the Kansas City striker from getting a shot on goal, keeping the home side’s lead at one.

Come full-time, Sporting had secured their first CONCACAF Champions League victory at Sporting Park, a result that will emboldened them ahead of next week’s trip to Estadio Azul. With one of the best defenses in Major League Soccer, Peter Vermes has reason to believe his side can keep a clean sheet against the Cementeros..

But down only one, Cruz Azul should still be considered most likely to go through. Having thrown their best at MLS’s champions tonight, however, Luis Fernando Tena’s team also learned Liga MX success may not necessarily translate to CONCACAF Champions League results.

Though Kansas City did little more than hold serve, it’s now up to Cruz Azul to do the same next week in Mexico.

Latest Posts
  1. Complete list of every transfer in the Premier League on Deadline Day

    Sep 1, 2015, 4:24 PM EDT

    FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-MONACO-BASTIA Getty Images

    Take a look at every transfer made in the Premier League on a wild and crazy Deadline Day.

  2. Aaron Lennon inks three-year deal with Everton

    Sep 1, 2015, 3:32 PM EDT

    Everton v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    The former Tottenham man spent the end of last season on loan at Goodison Park, and now the move has been made permanent.

  3. Leicester City signs Nathan Dyer on loan from Swansea City

    Sep 1, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    Swansea City v York City - Capital One Cup Second Round Getty Images

    The winger was flown into Leicester on the owner’s helicopter as a last minute signing for the Foxes.

  4. Manchester United fires back on De Gea saga, laying blame at feet of Real Madrid

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:55 PM EDT

    Alexander Buttner, Gareth Bale AP

    Let’s hope these guys match up in the UEFA Champions League, where time can be kept on the field.

  5. GRADES: How did each Premier League team fare in the Summer Transfer Window?

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor gives each team a grade after a busy summer in the transfer market.

  6. West Brom chairman reacts to Berahino furor over rejected Spurs bids; Takes shot at Levy

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:09 PM EDT

    during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City at The Hawthorns on August 10, 2015 in West Bromwich, England. Getty Images

    West Bromwich Albion chairman Jeremy Peace is speaking out on the Saido Berahino saga at the Hawthorns.

  7. USMNT Hyndman stays put at Fulham, will have trials to determine next home

    Sep 1, 2015, 1:37 PM EDT

    Hyndman Getty Images

    Frustrated at Fulham, American teen Emerson Hyndman looks set to stay at Craven Cottage through the final year of his contract.

  8. One for the future: Chelsea buys Jamaican defender, loans him back to Reading

    Sep 1, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    chelseafc.com chelseafc.com

    Hector earned his first six caps for the Reggae Boyz and participated in all three of Jamaica’s matches at the Copa America in Chile.

  9. Watford adds from Roma, Palace, Brugge; Sends Mexico’s Layun on loan

    Sep 1, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Colombia's forward Victor Ibarbo eyes the ball during the 2015 Copa America football championship quarter-final match against Argentina, in Viña del Mar, Chile, on June 26, 2015.   AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO        (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The captain of Algeria, a veteran of Colombia and a Belgian U-21 player are heading to the Premier League side at Vicarage Road.

  10. Saido Berahino slams West Brom, tries to force move to Tottenham Hotspur

    Sep 1, 2015, 12:35 PM EDT

    150119-saido-berahino-280

    Young striker is not happy at all as Baggies continue to block Spurs’ advances.

  11. Spurs, USMNT winger DeAndre Yedlin finds his loan destination at Sunderland

    Sep 1, 2015, 12:03 PM EDT

    Honduras v United States Getty Images

    Yedlin joins American prospect Lynden Gooch on the Premier League squad, where Jozy Altidore spent a tumultuous season-and-a-half.

  12. Bournemouth adds longtime Crystal Palace striker Glenn Murray

    Sep 1, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptu4othjmdgxmtq5mwvmzmniywvlmjflmju3mdizn2ji AP

    Crystal Palace feels ready to move on from their longtime striker, with Connor Wickham having joined Palace this summer.

  13. Here’s how Premier League clubs can still sign players two hours after the deadline

    Sep 1, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    That’s right, there’s a loophole to keep this madness going for an extra two hours. Think of it as extra-time.

  14. Chelsea sign center back Papy Djilobodji from Nantes

    Sep 1, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Paris Saint-Germain FC v FC Nantes - Ligue 1 Paris Saint-Germain FC v FC Nantes - Ligue 1

    Senegal international arrives at the Bridge to bolster Chelsea’s backline.

  15. Everton sign defender Mori for $14.5 million from River Plate

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    FBL-ARGENTINA-RIVER-BANFIELD Getty Images

    Toffees seal deal for Argentine international center back.

Featured video

MOTD: United's offensive struggles