Sporting Kansas City fans who believe in good omens will feel good about two facts pertaining to Mario Escobar, the Guatemalan referee who will officiate tonight’s first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Semifinals between Sporting Kansas City and CF Monterrey at Estadio BBVA Bancomer in Guadalupe, Mexico.
At the forefront, Escobar was the man in charge of Sporting’s 2-0 win over Toluca on Feb. 28, the club’s first and only victory on Mexican soil which sent Manager Peter Vermes’ men through to the quarterfinals 5-0 on aggregate. A flashbulb moment in that game saw Escobar award Sporting a penalty and issue a straight red card to Toluca defender Adrian Mora for hacking Krisztian Nemeth from behind inside the box.
Secondly, Escobar was in charge of Monterrey’s 3-2 home defeat to Panamanian side Arabe Unido in the Concacaf Champions League group stage back in August 2016. That result remains the only Champions League loss Rayados have suffered at the world-class Estadio BBVA Bancomer, which could welcome a crowd north of 50,000 for tonight’s all-important battle.
A FIFA international referee since 2013, Escobar has officiated in each of the last four editions of the Concacaf Champions League. He was recently a finalist for the 2018 Concacaf Referee of the Year, calling the decisive second leg of the 2018 Concacaf League Finals between Herediano and Motagua as well as knockout matches in the Concacaf Champions League last spring and group-stage fixtures in the Concacaf U-20 Championship last fall.
Joining Escobar on tonight’s officiating crew are assistant and fellow countryman Humberto Panjoj, Trinidadian assistant Joseph Bertrand and Jamaican fourth official Daneon Parchment. Panjoj was an assistant in Sporting’s abovementioned win at Toluca, while Parchment was the fourth official in Sporting’s 3-0 triumph against Independiente in the Champions League Quarterfinals last month at Children’s Mercy Park.
Tonight’s showdown will stream live in English on YahooSports.com and the Yahoo Sports app, while Univision Deportes will air a Spanish-language telecast. Local listeners can also follow the action on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish), with additional in-game updates and exclusive offers available on the new Sporting KC App.