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.
Deportivo Toluca FC snapped a three-game losing skid and a 345-minute scoreless streak in a tense 1-1 home draw with Apertura 2018 Copa MX champions Cruz Azul on Sunday afternoon at Estadio Nemesio Diez.
Orbelin Pineda nodded Cruz Azul into a 26th-minute lead to heap pressure on the slumping hosts, but Adrian Mora's header with 66 minutes on the clock stopped the bleeding and salvaged a much-needed result for los Diablos Rojos ahead of a three-match road swing.
An evenly poised affair saw Cruz Azul open the scoring just two minutes after Toluca's Rodrigo Salinas had a long-range drive saved by Mexican international goalkeeper Joe Corona. Toluca suffered another blow before halftime when Brazilian midfielder William was forced to exit with an apparent leg injury. The visitors almost doubled their advantage on the brink of intermission, but Alfredo Talavera produced a fine kick save to thwart Martin Cauteruccio.
Chances were few and far between in the second half, but Mora's towering header off a set piece leveled terms and gave Toluca their first goal since Jan. 13, ending a squalid run of almost four goalless outings.
Toluca nearly snared a win at the death, but Jonatan Maidana's goal-bound header was nodded off the goal line by Cruz Azul's Adrian Aldrete with 94 minutes on the clock.
Toluca boss Hernan Cristante made four changes to his lineup from last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Tijuana, with Mora notably stepping in for the suspended Omar Tobio in central defense. Osvaldo Gonzalez replaced left back Santiago Garcia, Luis Mendoza made way for veteran Carlos Esquivel on the left wing, and attacking midfielder Pablo Barrientos took Emmanuel Gigliotti's spot in behind central forward Enrique Triverio. The 30-year-old Triverio is one of three Toluca players, alongside deep-lying midfielders William and Antonio Rios, to start all six Liga MX matches this season.
Starting XI in 4-2-3-1 formation (R-L): Alfredo Talavera; Rodrigo Salinas, Jonatan Maidana, Adrian Mora, Osvaldo Gonzalez; Antonio Rios, William (Emmanuel Gigliotti 40); Felipe Pardo (Luis Mendoza 72), Pablo Barrientos, Carlos Esquivel (Luis Mendoza 45); Enrique Triverio
Subs not used: GK Luis Garcia, DF Santiago Garcia, MF Leonel Lopez, MF Federico Mancuello
Toluca now stare down the barrel of three straight away games, with Liga MX fixtures at Leon on Saturday and Santos Laguna on Feb. 24 bookending the highly anticipated Champions League showdown against Sporting Kansas City on Feb. 21 at Children's Mercy Park. Leon (3-1-2, 11 points) currently occupy third place in Liga MX, while fellow Champions League participants Santos Laguna (2-2-1) are level with Toluca on seven points.
Toluca Statistics (2019 Liga MX Clausura)
Record: 2-3-1, 7 points (1-1-1 home; 1-2-0 away)
Table: 11th in Liga MX
Goals for: 6
Goals against: 6
|FW Enrique Triverio||6||6||534||3||0|
|DF Adrian Mora||3||3||270||1||1|
|DF Santiago Garcia||5||5||450||1||0|
|FW Alexis Canelo||3||3||268||1||0|
|MF Pablo Barrientos||5||4||358||0||1|
|MF Leonel Lopez||2||0||48||0||1|
|MF Antonio Rios||6||6||540||0||0|
|MF Luis Mendoza||6||5||364||0||0|
|DF Rodrigo Salinas||5||5||450||0||0|
|MF Felipe Pardo||5||3||298||0||0|
|DF Osvaldo Gonzalez||4||4||360||0||0|
|DF Omar Tobio||3||3||270||0||0|
|DF Jonatan Maidana||3||3||270||0||0|
|FW Emmanuel Gigliotti||3||1||185||0||0|
|MF Carlos Esquivel||3||1||88||0||0|
|FW Diego Abella||3||1||52||0||0|
|MF Alan Medina||3||0||63||0||0|
|DF Richard Ruiz||1||1||82||0||0|
|MF Federico Mancuello||1||0||24||0||0|
|DF Cristian Borja||1||0||8||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||L 0-2|
|Sunday, Feb. 10||CRUZ AZUL||Liga MX||T 1-1|
|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|