[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Depth was going to be critical if the three MLS clubs involved in the Concacaf Champions League were to have any chance against Mexican rivals. And it sure proved to be the case for Sporting Kansas City, which got an early goal from Kevin Ellis -- who had made two MLS appearances in his first three seasons -- for a 1-0 win over Liga MX leader Cruz Azul before a sellout crowd of 18,467 at Sporting Park.
Ellis, who also started the MLS opener in place of injured Chance Myers, scored in the 17th minute after a pass from Claudio Bieler, one of seven changes SKC coach Peter Vermes made in the starting lineup from the team that lost at Seattle, 1-0, on Saturday.
One of the changes was mandated by Aurelien Collin's suspension, but Ike Opara made several key clearances in Collin's place on the Kansas City backline. The biggest came early in the second when he cleared Mariano Pavone's shot away with goalie Eric Kronberg beaten on the breakaway. Marco Fabian's header on the ensuing corner kick was deflected off the line by Benny Feilhaber with his arm though no foul was called.
Vermes will have to make another change to his back four for the return leg March 19 in Mexico City as left back Seth Sinovic picked up his second yellow card of the competition.
Sporting KC had a chance to add to its lead in the second half but Graham Zusi hit the crossbar. It finished with a 9-8 edge in shots in a game that featured 42 fouls and six yellow cards.
March 12 in Kansas City, Kan.
Sporting KC 1 Cruz Azul 0. Goal: Ellis 17.
Sporting KC --Kronberg; Ellis, Opara, Besler, Sinovic; Rosell, Nagamura, Feilhaber (Sapong 76); Zizzo (Peterson 60), Bieler (Dwyer 88), Zusi.
Cruz Azul --Corona, Dominguez, Castro, Fabian, Pavone, Gimenez, Rojas, Amaranto, Flores, Chavez, Formica.