Match Preview

Leagues Cup Preview: Sporting and Club Leon to square off in quarterfinals

Match Preview - Aug. 10, 2021

Sporting Kansas City vs. Club Leon
2021 Leagues Cup Quarterfinals
Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021 | 7 p.m. CT
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas

Broadcast Schedule:
English TV
Spanish TV | TUDN
Streaming | ESPN App
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM

Sporting Kansas City will begin their pursuit of a coveted international title on Tuesday when the team welcomes LIGA MX powerhouse Club Leon to Children's Mercy Park for the 2021 Leagues Cup quarterfinals.

Tuesday's showdown is set for 7 p.m. CT with tickets available on  and national coverage on ESPN2, TUDN and the ESPN app. Listeners can also catch the match locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM, while the Sporting KC mobile app will provide additional in-game updates.

The Leagues Cup is an eight-team, single-elimination tournament involving the top four clubs from both MLS and LIGA MX that did not qualify for the 2021 Concacaf Champions League. Sporting qualified by virtue of their first-place finish in the Western Conference in the 2020 MLS regular season, while Leon punched its ticket as the third-place finisher in the 2020-21 LIGA MX aggregate table. The competition will pit four MLS clubs against four LIGA MX teams in the quarterfinals, which will unfold Tuesday through Thursday of this week.

2021 Leagues Cup Quarterfinal Schedule

  • Sporting KC vs. Leon | Tuesday, Aug. 10, 7 p.m. CT (ESPN2, TUDN)
  • Seattle Sounders vs. Tigres | Tuesday, Aug. 10, 9 p.m. CT (ESPN2, TUDN)
  • NYCFC vs. Pumas | Wednesday, Aug. 11, 7 p.m. CT (ESPN+, TUDN)
  • Orlando City vs. Santos | Thursday, Aug. 12, 6 p.m. CT (ESPN+, TUDN)

The 2021 Leagues Cup will be played entirely the United States, with the semifinals slated for Sept. 14-15 and the Leagues Cup Final, taking place at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, scheduled for Sept. 22. The winner between Sporting and Leon will advance to meet either New York City FC or Pumas in the semifinals, with fixture details to be announced later this week.

2021 Leagues Cup Bracket - Aug. 9, 2021

By participating in the Leagues Cup, Sporting has an opportunity to secure its first ever international title at the expense of four stories Mexican sides in Leon, Tigres UANL, Pumas UNAM and Santos Laguna. Sporting's best finishes in international tournaments were semifinal showings in the 2002 Concacaf Champions' Cup and the 2019 Concacaf Champions League. Leon are also seeking a first international trophy to go with their eight Mexican league championships and five Copa MX titles.

Tuesday will mark the first time Sporting has welcomed a LIGA MX foe since April 2019 when Manager Peter Vermes' side advanced to the semifinal stage of the Concacaf Champions League. Sporting are 2-1-0 in competitive home matches against Mexican opposition at Children's Mercy Park, including wins over Cruz Azul (2013-14 CCL quarterfinals) and Deportivo Toluca FC (2019 CCL round of 16) and a loss to CF Monterrey (2019 CCL semifinals).

Sporting are 8-5-6 at home in international competitions, including a 6-2-2 mark at Children's Mercy Park. Midfielder Ilie Sanchez leads the current roster with two goals in international tournaments, both coming in the 2019 Concacaf Champions League. Defender Graham Zusi, meanwhile, leads the current squad with 13 international appearances in a Sporting uniform. He has tallied three assists in those 13 games, one shy of the club's all-time lead in international competitions.

Sporting striker Alan Pulido is well accustomed to facing Leon, having won multiple trophies with Mexican outfits Tigres UANL and Chivas over the last decade. As a member of Chivas, Pulido notably scored three times in two appearances against Leon in 2019. The 30-year-old forward is no stranger to club success on the international stage, as he led Chivas to the 2018 Concacaf Champions League title with a goal in the first leg of a dramatic win over Toronto FC in the finals.

Vermes' men enter Tuesday's clash in a rich vein of form, occupying first place in Major League Soccer's Western Conference with a 10-4-4 record. Sporting rank second in MLS with 1.83 goals per match, thanks in part to the contributions of MLS All-Star Daniel Salloi, whose 15 combined goals (10) and assists (five) lead the league. As explosive as its attack has been, Sporting relied on a resolute defensive performance to pick up a 0-0 draw at the Colorado Rapids on Saturday as goalkeeper Tim Melia produced three outstanding saves en route to the shutout.

Led by Argentine manager Ariel Holan, who was appointed on May 11, Leon have kicked off the 2021 LIGA MX Apertura campaign with two wins and a loss. They suffered a 4-0 loss at Pachuca on July 24 to open the season but bounced back with one-goal wins over Club Tijuana on July 31 and Queretaro on Aug. 5.

Leon's roster for the Leagues Cup features a pair of LIGA MX standouts in Angel Mena and William Tesillo, who helped the club to the 2020 Apertura title last December. Mena, a prolific winger, amassed 17 goals for Leon during the 2020-21 LIGA MX season and has 51 goals for the team in all competitions since the start of 2019. He recently appeared in five matches for Ecuador at the 2021 Copa America in Brazil. Tesillo, a versatile defender, has been an ever-present fixture for Leon over the last three seasons. The Colombian international started six of seven appearances at the 2021 Copa America as Colombia earned a third-place finish in the tournament. Tesillo and Mena both scored in Leon's recent victory over Tijuana.