Recap: Sporting suffers 5-0 first-leg defeat to Monterrey in Champions League Semifinals

Gerso Fernandes - Sporting KC at Monterrey - April 4, 2019

Sporting Kansas City suffered a 5-0 defeat to CF Monterrey on Thursday in the first leg of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Semifinals.

Dorlan Pabon’s brace propelled the rampant hosts, who received additional goals from Aviles Hurtado, Jesus Gallardo and Nicolas Sanchez to take a commanding aggregate lead at Estadio BBVA Bancomer in Guadalupe, Mexico.

The result gives Sporting a mountain to climb heading into next Thursday’s second leg, slated for 8 p.m. CT at Children’s Mercy Park. Tickets for the decisive matchup are available at as Kansas City hosts its first semifinal match in the Champions League against the three-time winners of the tournament.

A turbulent first half began brightly for Sporting, who enjoyed space and possession in the attacking half during the early stages. Parity was short-lived, however, as the hosts drew first blood with eight minutes on the clock. After breaking the visitors’ midfield lines, Rogelio Funes Mori was played into space and slid a diagonal through ball to Pabon, who finished low across Melia into the left corner for his second goal of the tournament.

With a buzzing crowd behind them at the stunning Estadio BBVA Bancomer, Rayados doubled their advantage six minutes later. Pabon’s cross from the right flank reached Funes Mori near the penalty spot, and although his scuffed attempt was kick-saved by Melia, Hurtado was on hand to smash the rebound high into the net.

Sporting Manager Peter Vermes fielded an unchanged lineup from Saturday’s 7-1 smackdown of the Montreal Impact at Children’s Mercy Park, but the cutting edge of last weekend’s performance had waned amidst a steady wave of pressure applied by Monterrey’s attack. Sporting managed two shot attempts in the first 45 minutes—a blocked effort from Graham Zusi and an audacious 35-yard sledgehammer from Johnny Russell that sailed wayward just before intermission.

Forward Krisztian Nemeth entered the night with a team-best eight goals and showed glimpses of his quality in the second half, dragging a shot narrowly wide in the 54th minute and forcing Monterrey goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero’s first save shortly thereafter. Yet Rayados were undeterred, and their lead swelled to 3-0 in the 55th minute when Stefan Medina’s deflected cross was stabbed home at the back post by Mexican international Gallardo.

Center back Sanchez added a fourth for Monterrey from the penalty spot, converting after substitute Yohan Croizet was whistled four a foul inside the box. Sporting endured yet another blow on 76 minutes when Pabon rifled low through traffic for his second goal of the evening.

Sixteen-year-old substitute Gianluca Busio was on the receiving end of Sporting’s final meaningful foray into Monterrey’s defensive third, but his header off Zusi’s bending delivery was saved by Barovero.

Sporting will aim to bounce back on Sunday in their inaugural MLS regular season matchup with expansion side FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The interconference clash is set for 2 p.m. CT with live coverage on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.

2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League
Semifinals (Leg 1 of 2)

Estadio BBVA Bancomer | Guadalupe, Mexico
Attendance: 44,582
Weather: 78 degrees and clear

Sporting Kansas City (3-2-0)
CF Monterrey (3-1-1)

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Andreu Fontas, Matt Besler (C), Seth Sinovic; Roger Espinoza, Ilie Sanchez, Felipe Gutierrez (Gianluca Busio 73); Johnny Russell (Yohan Croizet 64), Krisztian Nemeth (Kelyn Rowe 80), Gerso Fernandes
Subs Not Used: Adrian Zendejas, Botond Barath, Rodney Wallace, Gedion Zelalem

CF Monterrey: Marcelo Barovero; Stefan Medina, Cesar Montes (Miguel Layun 73), Nicolas Sanchez, Jesus Gallardo (Leonel Vangioni 83); Dorlan Pabon (C) (Maximiliano Meza 79), Carlos Rodriguez, Jonathan Gonzalez, Aviles Hurtado; Rodolfo Pizzaro; Rogelio Funes Mori
Subs Not Used: Edson Resendez, Celso Ortiz, Adam Bareiro, Angel Zaldivar

Scoring Summary:
MTY -- Dorlan Pabon 2 (Rogelio Funes Mori 1) 7
MTY -- Aviles Hurtado 1 (unassisted) 14
MTY -- Jesus Gallardo 2 (unassisted) 55
MTY -- Nicolas Sanchez 3 (penalty kick) 70
MTY -- Dorlan Pabon 3 (Rodolfo Pizarro 1) 76

Misconduct Summary:
SKC -- Andreu Fontas (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 30
MTY -- Nicolas Sanchez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 49
SKC -- Graham Zusi (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 58
MTY -- Cesar Montes (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 67

Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Mario Escobar
Assistant Referee: Joseph Bertrand
Assistant Referee: Humberto Panjoj
Fourth Official: Daneon Parchment