The month of February has arrived, and with that comes a monumental showdown between Sporting Kansas City and Deportivo Toluca FC in the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. Sporting KC will host the first leg at Children’s Mercy Park on Feb. 21 before traveling to Mexico for the decisive second leg on Feb. 28. Tickets to the contest at Children’s Mercy Park are now on sale at SeatGeek.com as Sporting hosts its earliest competitive match in club history.
In the 20 days leading up to Feb. 21, SportingKC.com will rattle off a 20-day Champions League Countdown, hitting all the relevant storylines surrounding the two-legged fixture. From history and geography lessons to number crunching, player matchups and coaching backgrounds, this daily series will set the stage for a pivotal battle in which two successful sides aim to take their first steps toward Champions League glory.
In the second installment of Champions League Countdown, SportingKC.com crunched the numbers on Sporting Kansas City’s all-time performances against Mexican opposition and the head-to-head history between Major League Soccer and MLS in the Concacaf Champions League knockout rounds.
The newest edition of the daily series will shift the focus on Deportivo Toluca FC’s history against clubs from MLS. Los Diablos Rojos share a brief but colorful past with American foes that dates back to 1998, the first of two occasions in which an MLS team won a continental championship.
Before diving into each of Toluca’s matchups against MLS sides, here’s a general overview. Los Diablos Rojos are 2-1-4 versus MLS opponents, including a 1-0-2 mark in the friendly confines of Toluca’s Estadio Nemesio Diez and a 1-1-2 record on American soil.
These numbers in themselves suggest Sporting KC are perfectly capable of knocking off Toluca in the Round of 16 later this month. After all, two previous MLS teams have earned road results at Estadio Nemesio Diez.
On the flipside, Toluca haven’t lost to an MLS club since 1998, their first ever competitive meeting north of the US-Mexico border.
Toluca vs. MLS opposition
|08/16/1998||at D.C. United||L 0-1||1998 Concacaf Champions' Cup||Final|
|08/26/2009||at D.C. United||W 3-1||2009-10 Concacaf Champions League||Group|
|10/20/2009||D.C. UNITED||T 1-1||2009-10 Concacaf Champions League||Group|
|03/09/2010||at Columbus Crew SC||T 2-2||2009-10 Concacaf Champions League||Quarterfinals|
|03/17/2010||COLUMBUS CREW SC||W 3-2||2009-10 Concacaf Champions League||Quarterfinals|
|03/11/2014||at San Jose Earthquakes||T 1-1||2013-14 Concacaf Champions League||Quarterfinals|
|03/19/2014||SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES||T 1-1 (5-4)||2013-14 Concacaf Champions League||Quarterfinals|
Aug. 16, 1998: D.C. United 1-0 Toluca
1998 Concacaf Champions' Cup Final
Concacaf's premier club competition featured a far simpler format 20 years ago. After a series of qualifying playoffs throughout North and Central America, an eight-team, single-elimination tournament unfolded over six days at iconic RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. Major League Soccer's first dynasty, D.C. United earned a 1-0 victory over Toluca in the final on a goal from American international Eddie Pope. It was the first of two times in which an MLS team has won a Concacaf title, with LA Galaxy hoisting the Concacaf Champions' Cup two years later.
Aug. 26, 2009: D.C. United 1-3 Toluca
2009-10 Concacaf Champions League Group Stage
Eleven years after falling short in the U.S. capital, Toluca exacted revenge with a victory at D.C. Chris Pontius equalized for the hosts shortly after halftime, but a late brace from Hector Mancilla put Toluca in the driver's seat.
Oct. 20, 2009: Toluca 1-1 D.C. United
2009-10 Concacaf Champions League Group Stage
D.C. offered the first bit of proof that MLS teams are capable of entering Estadio Nemesio Diez, perched at a lofty 8,800 feet above sea level, and emerging with a result. United led for most of the game after Pontius struck in the sixth minute, but Toluca leveled terms on Israel Lopez's 62nd-minute penalty kick.
March 9, 2010: Columbus Crew SC 2-2 Toluca
2009-10 Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals (Leg 1)
The most exciting two-legged series of the 2009-10 Champions League began with an enthralling 2-2 draw in Central Ohio. Sinha, Toluca's all-time leader in appearances, scored early and Antonio Rios—to this day a regular starter for los Diablos Rojos—doubled the lead just before halftime. But the Crew rallied in the second half on a brace from Steven Lenhart to leave all to play for in the return fixture.
March 17, 2010: Toluca 3-2 Columbus Crew SC
2009-10 Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals (Leg 2)
Columbus legend Guillermo Barros Schelloto gave the Crew every chance of pulling the upset in Toluca, scoring goals in either half. The hosts nevertheless prevailed by slim margins, receiving a Mancilla penalty and a second-half double from Sinha to sink the Crew.
March 11, 2014: San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 Toluca
2013-14 Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals (Leg 1)
Not too far removed from their Supporters' Shield-winning campaign in 2012, San Jose almost notched a monumental upset in the late winter of 2014. Trailing 1-0 on a Toluca goal from Raul Nava, the Earthquakes borrowed from their 2012 script and grabbed a last-gasp equalizer. With 95 minutes on the clock, Alan Gordon slotted home to instill belief in the capacity crowd at Buck Shaw Stadium.
March 19, 2014: Toluca 1-1 (5-4) San Jose Earthquakes
2013-14 Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals (Leg 2)
At the time, this was the closet an MLS team had ever come to eliminating a Mexican side south of the border in the Champions League. Fielding a weakened squad—Chris Wondolowski, Victor Bernardez, Alan Gordon and Clarence Goodson were all on the bench—the Quakes defended deep and battled bravely at Estadio Nemesio Diez. Against the run of play, Ty Harden gave San Jose a shock lead near the hour mark, only for Toluca to restore parity 13 minutes later through Isaac Brizuela.
San Jose kept Toluca off the score sheet through extra time, forcing a decisive penalty kick shootout. When Shea Salinas’s sixth-round penalty smacked off goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera’s woodwork, Toluca could finally breathe a massive sigh of relief. Los Diablos Rojos would go on to finish second in the tournament, falling to a Cruz Azul side that beat Sporting KC in the quarterfinals.