Match Recap

Leagues Cup Recap: Sporting advances to Round of 32 with 1-0 home win over Chivas

Sporting Kansas City punched a ticket to the Leagues Cup 2023 knockout stage on Monday by claiming a convincing 1-0 win over Liga MX powerhouse Chivas Guadalajara at sold-out Children’s Mercy Park.

Captain Johnny Russell was the difference maker, hammering home a ruthless strike in the 27th minute that cemented victory and, more importantly, sealed a second-place finish in Central Region Group 3 that kept Kansas City's title hunt alive in Leagues Cup.

The result sets up a mouthwatering Round of 32 clash between Sporting and Central Region Group 4 winner Deportivo Toluca FC on Friday night at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on Apple TV and tickets available at beginning Tuesday at 10 a.m. CT.

With the much-needed victory—one that saw the dominant hosts enjoy 63% of possession and limit Chivas to a single shot on target—Sporting defeated a Liga MX opponent for the first time since ousting Toluca in the 2019 Concacaf Champions League.

Boosted by a sizeable contingent of fans inside the stadium on Monday, Liga MX leaders Chivas were swiftly eliminated from Leagues Cup after suffering their second defeat in four days, having fallen 3-1 to FC Cincinnati late last week. The club has now lost its last five matches against MLS opposition dating back to 2018.

Manager Peter Vermes made one change to his starting lineup from Sporting’s previous Leagues Cup match at FC Cincinnati on July 23. With forward Alan Pulido serving the first of a two-game suspension in the tournament, attacking midfielder and fellow Designated Player Erik Thommy returned to the starting XI as a false nine up front. Sporting’s bench, meanwhile, had two notable inclusions with striker Willy Agada and goalkeeper Tim Melia available for selection after overcoming long-term injuries.

An electric Children’s Mercy Park atmosphere fueled a frenetic start on the pitch as Sporting concocted the game’s first chance after 14 minutes. Russell found a pocket of space on the edge of the penalty area and sent a venomous blast inches over the crossbar, much to the relief of helpless Chivas goalkeeper Jose Rangel. In the buildup to the play, Sporting defender Tim Leibold appeared to have been fouled inside the box, but referee Lukasz Szpala was never summoned to the VAR monitor.

Russell remained a menace and intercepted a pass in Sporting’s attacking third in the 17th minute, setting up Gadi Kinda for a swivel and strike that was blocked. Eight minutes later, the duo combined again as Kinda ran onto Russell’s sumptuous backheel pass only to see his close-range dink shot cleared off the goal line.

Sporting’s captain gave his side a well-deserved lead in the 27th minute. Kinda whipped in a tantalizing service from the right channel that Thommy attempted to bicycle kick goalward. The German made the slightest of touches by caroming the ball toward Russell on the left side of the box. With an emphatic strike low into the far-right corner, the Scottish winger rippled the back of the net to ignite celebrations among the Sporting faithful and give the hosts an invaluable 1-0 advantage. Russell now has goals in back-to-back home appearances at Children’s Mercy Park, while Thommy has a team-best eight assists this season in all competitions.

Hungry for more, Russell nearly bagged his second goal in as many minutes by swiftly beating Chivas right back Alan Mozo and smashing his near-post effort just wide into the side netting. Shortly thereafter, the all-action Russell curled a free kick marginally over the bar from distance. That play preceded another intricately worked attack from Sporting, with Gutierrez and Thommy interplaying neatly before the latter had his shot deflected aside.

Sporting’s rampant dangerman was at it again 10 minutes into the second half as Kinda set Russell free down the left side, but his ensuing shot at full stride sailed high and wide.

Chivas seldom threatened Sporting over the course of 90 minutes, but 17-year-old forward Yael Padilla brought a spark off the bench and thrashed a hopeful shot high of the mark in the 82nd minute.

Homegrown forward Daniel Salloi entered the fray in the late stages, logging his 200th career appearance for Sporting in all competitions, and forced a save from Rangel with a 30-yard piledriver on 88 minutes. At the opposite end, Chivas center back Antonio Briseño nearly latched onto a half-cleared corner kick by nodding a header a few feet wide.

Leagues Cup 2023 | Central Region Group 3
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 20,373
Weather: 81 degrees and cloudy

Sporting Kansas City 1-0 Chivas Guadalajara
Sporting Kansas City (1-0-1, 4 points)
Chivas Guadalajara (0-2-0, 0 points)

Sporting Kansas City: John Pulskamp; Jake Davis, Dany Rosero, Andreu Fontas, Tim Leibold; Remi Walter, Felipe Gutierrez (Roger Espinoza 62'), Gadi Kinda; Khiry Shelton (Daniel Salloi 74'), Erik Thommy, Johnny Russell (C)

Subs Not Used: Kendall McIntosh, Tim Melia, Robert Castellanos, Kayden Pierre, Logan Ndenbe, Robert Voloder, Cam Duke, Willy Agada, Marinos Tzionis

Chivas Guadalajara: Jose Rangel; Alan Mozo (Isaac Brizuela 79'), Antonio Briseño, Jesus Orozco, Cristian Calderon; Victor Guzman (C) (Yael Padilla 67'), Fernando Beltran, Erick Gutierrez (Pavel Perez 66'); Roberto Alvarado, Ricardo Marin (Ronaldo Cisneros 79'), Alexis Vega (Juan Brigido 57')

Subs Not Used: Miguel Jimenez, Oscar Whalley, Alejandro Mayorga, Raul Martinez, Jesus Sanchez, Fernando Gonzalez, Alan Torres

Scoring Summary:
SKC -- Johnny Russell 1 (Erik Thommy 1) 27'

Misconduct Summary:
CHV -- Erick Gutierrez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 56'
CHV -- Antonio Briseño (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 67'
CHV -- Cristian Calderon (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 85'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Lukasz Szpala
Assistant Referee: Nick Uranga
Assistant Referee: Jose Carlos Ojeda Sequeira
Fourth Official: Kwinsi Williams
VAR: David Barrie
AVAR: Tyler Wyrostek