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.
The second edition of our Champions League Countdown revisited Sporting Kansas City’s past performances against Mexican foes, while part three flipped perspective with a look at Toluca’s history versus MLS opponents.
This time around, let’s take a look at how Sporting KC and Toluca have fared in the current format of the Concacaf Champions League, adopted ahead of the 2008-09 tournament. Both sides are making their fourth appearances in the competition since then, hoping to achieve better results in the coming weeks.
Concacaf Champions League History (since 2008)
|2013-14||Lost to Cruz Azul (MEX) in quarterfinals||3-1-2||7||6||1-0-2||2-1-0|
|2014-15||Eliminated in group stage||2-1-1||7||4||2-0-0||0-1-1|
|2016-17||Eliminated in group stage||1-2-1||6||8||1-1-0||0-1-1|
Sporting’s best Champions League showing came in 2013-14, when Manager Peter Vermes’ men comfortably navigated the group stage in fall 2013 before falling to eventual champion Cruz Azul in the two-legged quarterfinals in March 2014.
Sporting opened the 2013-14 group stage with impressive wins in Honduras and Nicaragua, ousting C.D. Olimpia and Real Esteli, respectively, and actually came within 45 minutes of scalping Cruz Azul. The Mexicans took a 1-0 first-leg defeat at Children’s Mercy Park and led 2-1 at halftime in the return leg in Mexico City, which would have sent Sporting through on away goals, but Cruz Azul struck thrice in the second half to prevail 5-1 on aggregate.
Champions League fortunes have soured for Sporting since then. The club needed only a draw in their 2014-15 group stage finale at Costa Rican powerhouse Deportivo Saprissa but suffered a 2-0 setback instead and missed out on the knockout rounds. In 2016-17, Sporting were paired with fellow MLS outfit Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the group stage and lost both head-to-head meetings, thus failing to reach the knockout stage for the second straight time.
Concacaf Champions League History (since 2008)
|2009-10||Lost to Pachuca (MEX) in semifinals||5-2-3||21||10||3-0-2||2-2-1|
|2010-11||Lost to Monterrey (MEX) in quarterfinals||3-4-1||15||7||3-1-0||0-3-1|
|2013-14||Lost to Cruz Azul (MEXI in finals||6-0-4||21||7||3-0-2||3-0-2|
Whereas Sporting have yet to make a serious challenge at the Champions League title, Toluca endured heartbreak in each of their three previous appearances—all of which resulted in knockout round elimination.
Los Diablos Rojos took their first shot in the competition in 2009-10, breezing through a group stage that included D.C. United before edging Columbus Crew SC in a thrilling quarterfinal series over two legs. Their run was halted in the semifinals with a 2-1 aggregate loss to Mexican rivals Pachuca, who went on to win the tournament.
Toluca took a step back in the 2010-11 edition, but not before progressing from the group stage with dominant home wins over C.D. Olimpia, Puerto Rico Islanders and CD FAS of El Salvador. This time the roadblock came in the form of Monterrey, who handed Toluca their only Champions League home loss to date at Estadio Nemesio Diez. Monterrey took a 2-0 aggregate win en route to claiming their first of three straight continental titles.
An utterly dominant 2013-14 Champions League campaign ended in agony for los Diablos Rojos. Toluca posted six wins and four draws throughout the tournament, outscoring opponents 21-7 in the process, and claimed the no. 1 overall seed in the knockout stage after going a perfect 4-0-0 in their group. A nailbiting penalty shootout win over the San Jose Earthquakes in the quarterfinals was followed by a comprehensive semifinal beating of Costa Rica’s Alajuelense. That set the stage for a championship meeting with Mexican rival Cruz Azul, and a 1-1 home draw in the decisive second leg following a scoreless road draw saw Toluca suffer defeat on away goals. It was the third straight time the club had lost to the eventual champion in the competition.