Sporting Kansas City took a minimal lead over Cruz Azul at Sporting Park on Wednesday in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals home leg. Kansas won 1-0 over la maquina cementera and will take that lead into next week’s return leg at the Azul Stadium in Mexico City.
La maquina came out in a lazy fashion setting themselves in the back and allowing the home side to take control of the ball. Sporting did not waste the opportunities making more attack runs in the first half. The dominance by the MLS squad was evident as the majority of the game was on the Cruz Azul defensive end.
In the 17th minute Sporting Kansas’ efforts paid off. In a cross pattern that moved by la maquina’s defense, Claudio Bieler passed to Kevin Ellis who was clear of marker and shot to Jose de Jesus Corona’s right corner. The keeper dove, but the ball rolled past him to give Kansas the 1-0.
Cristian “Chaco” Gimenez was close to scoring the equalizer in the final minute of the first half when he took the ball down the line and fired from a distance. The ball went wide missing the near post by inches.
Kansas generated more plays in the half, but would not get close enough firing from long distance. The game went to break with the current MLS Champions leading.
The best shot for Cruz Azul came in the 55th minute of play when Mariano Pavone took the ball in the center at midfield and ran in to go head-to-head with goalkeeper Eric Kronberg. After beating the keeper Pavone shot but defender Ike Opara slid in to send the ball to corner.
In the next play Seth Sinovic cleared a shot on the line to keep the home team with a clean sheet. As the game rolled, la maquina cementera applied more pressure. The Azulinos played better in the second half generating more plays. However, it was not enough for the Mexico City squad to take the game.
The return leg is scheduled to take place at the Azul Stadium on Mar. 19, 2014. Cruz Azul will attempt to turn the 1-0 around and make their way into the semifinals of the competition.