Beyond The Box Score: Sporting fall in Panama but grab all-important away goal

Sporting Kansas City may have suffered a 2-1 defeat to Independiente in Wednesday’s first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals, but that all-important away goal—provided at the penalty spot by Ilie Sanchez in the 51st minute—gives Manager Peter Vermes’ men plenty of life heading into next Thursday’s decisive second leg at Children’s Mercy Park.

In fact, a comprehensive look at the club’s all-time performances in two-legged series—both in Concacaf tournaments and in the MLS Cup Playoffs—suggests Sporting will like their chances of overcoming the 2-1 deficit to reach the Champions League Semifinals for the first time ever.

Let’s begin with this stat: Sporting are 7-3 in two-legged series when they score at least one away goal. The first losing instance came when Kansas City suffered an insurmountable 6-1 first-leg loss at Morelia in the 2002 Concacaf Champions’ Cup. The second such loss resulted from a 2-1 road defeat to Deportivo Saprissa following a scoreless first leg at home in 2005. The third occurred in the 2014 Champions League Quarterfinals when Cruz Azul claimed a 5-1 home win in the second leg to prevail 5-2 on aggregate.

Add further modifications to the stat, and we have this takeaway: Sporting are 6-1 in two-legged series in which they grab an away goal in the first leg. Abovementioned Morelia delivered the only such defeat, leaving Kansas City too much to overcome with their five-goal triumph on Mexican soil in 2002.

Granted, a few of these series victories took place in the MLS Cup Playoffs during a time where the away goals tiebreaker was not in place. Nevertheless, that 6-1 record points to the importance of Sporting getting on the board at least once prior to hosting the decisive second leg in Kansas City.

Below are Sporting’s all-time performances in two-legged series across all competitions. The club is 10-6 overall and 3-3 in the Champions League. The six series wins that saw Sporting grab a first-leg away goal came in 2002 (twice), 2003, 2011, 2013 and 2018.

10-6 record overall (6-1 with first-leg away goal, shown in BOLD)

Year Competition Opponent Leg 1 Leg 2 Aggregate
2002 Concacaf Champions' Cup Round of 16 W Connection W 1-0 away W 2-0 home W 3-0
2002 Concacaf Champions' Cup Quarterfinals Santos Laguna L 1-2 away W 2-0 home W 3-2
2002 Concacaf Champions' Cup Semifinals Morelia L 1-6 away T 1-1 home L 2-7
2003 MLS Cup Playoffs (Conference Semifinals) Colorado Rapids T 1-1 away W 2-0 home W 3-1
2004 MLS Cup Playoffs (Conference Semifinals) San Jose Earthquakes L 0-2 away W 3-0 home W 3-2
2005 Concacaf Champions' Cup Quarterfinals Deportivo Saprissa T 0-0 home L 1-2 away L 1-2
2007 MLS Cup Playoffs (Conference Semifinals) Chivas USA W 1-0 home T 0-0 away W 1-0
2008 MLS Cup Playoffs (Conference Semifinals) Columbus Crew SC T 1-1 home L 0-2 away L 1-3
2011 MLS Cup Playoffs (Conference Semifinals) Colorado Rapids W 2-0 away W 2-0 home W 4-0
2012 MLS Cup Playoffs (Conference Semifinals) Houston Dynamo L 0-2 away W 1-0 home L 1-2
2013 MLS Cup Playoffs (Conference Semifinals) New England Revolution L 1-2 away W 3-1 home W 4-3
2013 MLS Cup Playoffs (Conference Finals) Houston Dynamo T 0-0 away W 2-1 home W 2-1
2014 Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals Cruz Azul W 1-0 home L 1-5 away L 2-5
2018 MLS Cup Playoffs (Conference Semifinals) Real Salt Lake T 1-1 away W 4-2 home W 5-3
2018 MLS Cup Playoffs (Conference Finals) Portland Timbers T 0-0 away L 2-3 home L 2-3
2019 Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 Toluca W 3-0 home W 2-0 away W 5-0
2019 Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals Independiente L 1-2 away ? ?

Wednesday’s result at Estadio Agustin Sanchez in La Chorrera, Panama, gives Sporting a slender deficit going into the return fixture next Thursday at Children’s Mercy Park. Tickets for the pivotal matchup, slated for 7 p.m. CT, are included in Sporting KC Season Ticket Member packages and are on sale now at