Sporting Kansas City and Deportivo Toluca FC are on a collision course, the outcome of which will be decided when the clubs meet in the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. Sporting will host the first leg of the aggregate-goal series on Feb. 21 at Children’s Mercy Park (get your tickets here) before venturing to Mexico for the decisive second leg on Feb. 28.
In the buildup to this titanic battle, SportingKC.com will provide weekly updates on Los Diablos Rojos as part of the site’s Tracking Toluca series. For more information about North America’s premier club tournament, visit our 2019 Champions League page.
After vaulting to Liga MX summit earlier this month, Deportivo Toluca FC have crashed back down to earth following their second straight 1-0 setback.
In their first Clausura fixture against a fellow participant in the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, los Diablos Rojos dropped to eighth place in Liga MX with a narrow home loss to Tigres UANL at Estadio Nemesio Diez.
Tigres midfielder Luis Quinones, who scored nine times in 33 appearances for Toluca in 2018, sealed the bitter fate of his former club with a superb game-winning strike on the cusp of halftime. His left-footed laser from outside the box struck the woodwork, bounced into the turf and back into the field of play, but VAR intervention prompted the referee to award the goal after the ball had clearly crossed over the goal line.
Santiago Garcia, Felipe Pardo and Rodrigo Salinas all missed by a matter of inches during a lively first half in which Toluca dominated the run of play, but the hosts were made to pay for their profligacy when Quinones fired Tigres ahead.
Chasing an equalizer, Toluca continued to control proceedings in the second stanza and finished with a 23-7 advantage in shots attempts. Debutant Emmanuel Gigliotti forced Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman into a reflex save in what was ultimately the best chance for an equalizer.
Sunday’s showdown saw three Argentines make their Toluca debuts after landing high-profile transfers to the club this winter. Center back Jonatan Maidana anchored the backline after spending the previous eight years with River Plate, where he won the 2018 Copa Libertadores last month. Maidana, 33, has five caps for Argentina and boasts more than 400 professional appearances over the last 15 years.
In the midfield, 29-year-old playmaker Federico Mancuello entered as a 66th-minute substitute for his first Toluca outing. He featured prominently for Independiente from 2008-2015 before making top-flight stops in Brazil with Flamengo (2016-17) and Cruzeiro (2018) over the last three seasons. Mancuello has been capped twice by Argentina’ senior team.
Bolstering the Toluca attack was Gigliotti, who earned his maiden appearance for the side as a halftime substitute. The 31-year-old veteran, who landed his lone cap for Argentina in 2011, amassed 147 goals in 389 club matches prior to arriving in Mexico. A prolific striker, Gigliotti has spent most of his career in Argentina but also had brief stints in Italy and China.
Pardo wasn’t a debutant, but he did earn his first Toluca start after coming off the bench in the previous two games. The 28-year-old Colombian winger arrived this winter from Greek powerhouse Olympiacos, where he recorded 15 goals and 13 assists in 77 matches.
Toluca boss Hernan Cristante fielded an attack-minded lineup on Sunday, making three changes from last weekend’s defeat at Guadalajara. Maidana replaced Osvaldo Gonzalez while Pardo and promising 20-year-old Diego Abella came in for Alexis Canelo and Pablo Barrientos, respectiely.
Canelo, an integral piece of Toluca’s attack since 2017, fractured his fibula in training on Wednesday and has been ruled out indefinitely. His ailment could prove significant with a Champions League matchup against Sporting KC on the horizon. Barrientos also missed through injury but figures to return to action in the coming days.
Starting XI in 4-4-2 formation (R-L): Alfredo Talavera; Rodrigo Salinas, Jonatan Maidana, Omar Tobio, Santiago Garcia; Luis Mendoza, William (Federico Mancuello 66), Antonio Rios, Felipe Pardo; Diego Abella (Emmanuel Gigliotti 45), Enrique Triverio
Subs not used: GK Luis Garcia, DF Osvaldo Gonzalez, DF Adrian Mora, MF Carlos Esquivel, MF Leonel Lopez
Toluca will look to bounce back Saturday when they travel northwest to face Tijuana, who have claimed just one win in six matches this month across all competitions. The contest at Estadio Caliente will air live in English on FS1 with kickoff slated for 9 p.m. CT.
Toluca Statistics (2019 Liga MX Clausura)
Record: 2-2-0, 6 points (1-1-0 home; 1-1-0 away)
Table: 8th in Liga MX
Goals for: 5
Goals against: 3
|FW Enrique Triverio||4||4||354||3||0|
|DF Santiago Garcia||4||4||360||1||0|
|MF Antonio Rios||4||4||360||0||0|
|MF Luis Mendoza||4||4||290||0||0|
|FW Alexis Canelo||3||3||268||1||0|
|DF Osvaldo Gonzalez||3||3||270||0||0|
|DF Rodrigo Salinas||3||3||270||0||0|
|MF Pablo Barrientos||3||3||234||0||0|
|MF Felipe Pardo||3||1||153||0||0|
|FW Diego Abella||3||1||52||0||0|
|DF Adrian Mora||2||2||180||0||1|
|DF Omar Tobio||2||2||180||0||0|
|MF Carlos Esquivel||2||0||43||0||0|
|DF Jonatan Maidana||1||1||90||0||0|
|DF Richard Ruiz||1||1||82||0||0|
|MF Leonel Lopez||1||0||20||0||1|
|FW Emmanuel Gigliotti||1||0||45||0||0|
|MF Federico Mancuello||1||0||24||0||0|
|DF Cristian Borja||1||0||8||0||0|
|MF Alan Medina||1||0||1||0||0|
2019 Toluca Schedule and Results
|Friday, Jan. 4||at Morelia||Liga MX||W 3-1|
|Sunday, Jan. 13||PUEBLA||Liga MX||W 2-0|
|Sunday, Jan. 20||at Guadalajara||Liga MX||L 0-1|
|Sunday, Jan. 27||TIGRES UANL||Liga MX||L 0-1|
|Saturday, Feb. 2||at Tijuana||Liga MX||9pm|
|Sunday, Feb. 10||CRUZ AZUL||Liga MX||12pm|
|Saturday, Feb. 16||at Leon||Liga MX||7pm|
|Thursday, Feb. 21||at Sporting KC||Champions League||7pm|
|Sunday, Feb. 24||at Santos Laguna||Liga MX||6pm|
|Thursday, Feb. 28||SPORTING KC||Champions League||9pm|
|Sunday, March 3||VERACRUZ||Liga MX||12pm|
|Saturday, March 9||at Necaxa||Liga MX||9pm|
|Sunday, March 17||ATLAS||Liga MX||1pm|
|Saturday, March 30||at Pachuca||Liga MX||8pm|
|Sunday, April 7||MONTERREY||Liga MX||12pm|
|Saturday, April 13||at Queretaro||Liga MX||5pm|
|Sunday, April 21||CLUB AMERICA||Liga MX||12pm|
|Sunday, April 28||at Pumas UNAM||Liga MX||12pm|
|Saturday, May 4||LOBOS BUAP||Liga MX||9pm|