Sporting Kansas City’s run in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League ended Thursday in a 5-2 semifinal defeat to Mexican side CF Monterrey at Children’s Mercy Park. Gerso Fernandes scored twice for the hosts during a breathless first half, but Rayados rallied after halftime to claim a 10-2 aggregate win and advance to the Concacaf Champions League Finals for the fourth time.
As one of four semifinalists in North America’s premier club tournament, Sporting will take home $200,000 in prize money and exit the competition as the furthest-advancing MLS team in the 2019 Champions League.
With the pursuit of a continental title out of reach, Sporting will now cast full focus on the resumption of the MLS regular season. Manager Peter Vermes’ men return to Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday, hosting the New York Red Bulls in a marquee matchup between the 2018 first-place finishers in the Eastern and Western Conferences, respectively. The 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final rematch is slated for 6 p.m. CT on FS1 with tickets available at SeatGeek.com.
Despite carrying a 5-0 deficit into Thursday’s second leg, Sporting were buoyed by an electric Children’s Mercy Park crowd in the early stages of the return fixture. Gerso opened the scoring and ignited hopes of an epic comeback in the sixth minute, steering a volley in off the post after Johnny Russell had whipped a delightful cross into the box.
Committing numbers forward in search for more, Sporting were breached on the counter attack in the 20th minute. Monterrey forward Rogelio Funes Mori broke free down the left side and finished low past goalkeeper Tim Melia to open his Champions League scoring account and net his ninth goal of the season in all competitions.
Rayados had entered the night with just one goal allowed through five Champions League matches, but Sporting struck for their second of the night in the 29th minute. Russell rummaged forward and unleashed a curler that goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero did well to save, but Gerso hammered the rebound into the top corner to secure his brace and bag his fourth goal of the tournament.
Two more flashbulb moments unfolded before the break. Rodolfo Pizarro slotted home from close range in the 39th minute, then Barovero denied Ilie Sanchez from the penalty spot at the opposite end to keep the sides deadlocked at 2-2.
Sporting thought they had reclaimed the lead on 49 minutes, but Seth Sinovic was flagged offside after nodding Graham Zusi’s cross into the back of the net at the far post. Russell threatened twice in quick succession a few minute later, but his dipping free kick and a tight-angle shot off a Krisztian Nemeth feed narrowly missed the mark.
Rayados surged ahead in the 61st minute thanks to a stunning 25-yard free kick from Mexican international Miguel Layun. The strike preceded a wild sequence that saw Funes Mori and Zusi both fire marginally wide on opposite ends.
Monterrey added a pair of insurance goals in the final 10 minutes as Aviles Hurtado’s curler in the 82nd minute was followed by a stoppage-time goal from Funes Mori.
2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League
Semifinals (Leg 2 of 2)
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, KS
Weather: 48 degrees and clear
|Sporting Kansas City (3-3-0)||2||0||2||2|
|CF Monterrey (4-1-1)||2||3||5||10|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Andreu Fontas (Botond Barath 56), Matt Besler (C), Seth Sinovic; Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza (Gianluca Busio 57), Felipe Gutierrez; Johnny Russell, Krisztian Nemeth (Daniel Salloi 64), Gerso Fernandes
Subs Not Used: Adrian Zendejas, Nicolas Hasler, Yohan Croizet, Kelyn Rowe
CF Monterrey: Marcelo Barovero (C); Stefan Medina, Cesar Montes, Johan Vasquez (Leonel Vangioni 60); Miguel Layun, Celso Ortiz, Carlos Rodriguez, Jesus Gallardo (Maximiliano Meza 64); Aviles Hurtado, Rogelio Funes Mori, Rodolfo Pizarro (Dorlan Pabon 61)
Subs Not Used: Luis Cardenas, Edson Gutierrez, Eric Cantu, Adam Bareiro
SKC -- Gerso Fernandes 3 (Johnny Russell 2) 6
MTY -- Rogelio Funes Mori 1 (Rodolfo Pizarro 2) 20
SKC -- Gerso Fernandes 4 (unassisted) 29
MTY -- Rodolfo Pizarro 1 (Jesus Gallardo 1) 45
MTY -- Miguel Layun 1 (unassisted) 61
MTY -- Aviles Hurtado 2 (Maximiliano Meza 1) 82
MTY -- Rogelio Funes Mori 2 (Dorlan Pabon 1) 91+
SKC -- Felipe Gutierrez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 26
MTY -- Cesar Montes (yellow card; time wasting) 36
SKC -- Ilie Sanchez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 60
|Shots on Goal||4||5|
Referee: Joel Aguilar
Assistant Referee: Juan Francisco Zumba
Assistant Referee: Juan Carlos Mora
Fourth Official: Said Martinez