Sporting Kansas City and Club de Futbol Monterrey will meet in the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League semifinals. Sporting will travel to Mexico for the first leg of the aggregate-goal series on Thursday before hosting the decisive second leg at Children's Mercy Park on April 11 (tickets on sale now). In the buildup to this continental clash, SportingKC.com is providing updates on the Rayados as part of the site’s Monitoring Monterrey series.
After Sporting Kansas City cruised to a 7-1 thrashing of Montreal on Saturday afternoon at Children's Mercy Park, the club's Champions League counterparts appeared to be coasting to a comfortable home win of their own as Monterrey led Cruz Azul 2-0 with 15 minutes remaining at a rain-soaked BBVA Bancomer Stadium on Saturday night thanks to a sensational bicycle kick from Aviles Hurtado on the cusp of halftime and a Cesar Montes header four minutes into the second stanza.
However, the script was flipped in the 76th minute amidst controversial circumstances as Rayados penalty shouts went unanswered on one end of the field and, just 20 seconds later, Cruz Azul scored on the opposite end with a header tucked inside the near post from 10 yards out by former New England Revolution forward Milton Caraglio.
That exchange set the stage for Cruz Azul's dramatic 91st minute equalizer on a corner delivered to the back post and nodded home by centerback Igor Lichnovsky, a Chilean national teammate of Sporting midfielder Felipe Gutierrez.
The result, which keeps Monterrey third in the Liga MX standings and six points back of the top of the Clausura table, was the latest in a troubling trend of blown leads late in matches this year. In fact, the Rayados have now dropped eight points after the 80th minute since January:
- Jan. 12: Led current league leaders Leon at home by a 2-0 scoreline, but conceded in 94th minute of 2-2 draw
- Feb. 3: Up 1-0 on the road, the victory turned into a draw when UNAM Pumas leveled in the 83rd minute
- March 9: Beating rivals Tigres UANL 1-0 at home, the crosstown club - currently in second place - found an 80th minute equalizer
- March 30: Cruz Azul, who ended Monterrey's last two trophy pursuits in the Apertura 2018 Copa MX Final and Apertura 2018 semifinals, pile on the pain with a 91st minute equalizer
Like Sporting Manager Peter Vermes, Monterrey head coach Diego Alonso fielded a first-choice side on Saturday with five days to recover before Thursday's semifinal showdown in the Concacaf Champions League. The lone, notable exception was right back Miguel Layun, who played 90 minutes for Mexico last Tuesday and did not dress on Saturday.
Rayados' other six internationals all took the field with Rodolfo Pizarro, Carlos Rodriguez, Cesar Montes and Celso Ortiz back in the starting lineup while Jesus Gallardo and Jonathan Gonzalez came off the bench.
Starting XI in 4-2-3-1 formation (R-L): Marcelo Barovero; Edson Gutiérrez, César Montes, Stefan Medina, Leonel Vangioni; Celso Ortíz, Carlos Rodríguez (Jonathan González 66'), Dorlan Pabon (Jesús Gallardo 75'), Rodolfo Pizarro, Avilés Hurtado (Johan Vásquez 90'); Rogelio Funes Mori
Subs Not Used: Maximiliano Meza, Angel Zaldivar, Luis Cardenas, Nicolas Sanchez
Monterrey Statistics (2019 Liga MX Clausura)
Record: 6-1-5, 23 points (3-0-4 home, 3-1-1 away)
Table: 3rd in Liga MX
Goals For: 25
Goals Against: 12
|FWD||Rogelio Funes Mori||11||9||8||1|
2019 Schedule and Results
|Jan. 5||vs Pachuca||Liga MX||5-0 Win|
|Jan. 12||vs Leon||Liga MX||2-2 Draw|
|Jan. 19||at Queretaro||Liga MX||2-1 Win|
|Jan. 26||vs Club America||Liga MX||3-2 Win|
|Feb. 3||at Pumas||Liga MX||1-1 Draw|
|Feb. 9||vs Lobos||Liga MX||4-0 Win|
|Feb. 15||at Morelia||Liga MX||3-2 Win|
|Feb. 20||at Alianza||CCL||0-0 Draw|
|Feb. 23||vs Puebla||Liga MX||0-0 Draw|
|Feb. 27||vs Alianza||CCL||1-0 Win|
|March 2||at Chivas||Liga MX||2-0 Win|
|March 6||vs Atlanta||CCL||3-0 Win|
|March 9||vs Tigres||Liga MX||1-1 Draw|
|March 13||at Atlanta||CCL||1-0 Loss|
|March 16||at Tijuana||Liga MX||1-0 Loss|
|March 30||vs Cruz Azul||Liga MX||2-2 Draw|
|April 4||vs Sporting KC||CCL|
|April 7||at Toluca||Liga MX|
|April 11||at Sporting KC||CCL|
|April 13||vs Santos Laguna||Liga MX|
|April 19||at Veracruz||Liga MX|
|April 27||vs Necaxa||Liga MX|
|May 3||at Atlas||Liga MX|