[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] A late first-half goal by Benny Feilhaber momentarily put Sporting Kansas City back ahead in its Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal series against Cruz Azul, but it was wishful thinking that the 2013 MLS champions could hold on against the Liga MX leaders as they were overrun in the second half en route to a 5-1 defeat (5-2 on aggregate) that gave Liga MX clubs a sweep of their three series against MLS teams.
Sporting Kansas City's depth or lack of same was always going to be the difference as it was the only one of three MLS clubs to have played on the first two weekends of the MLS season before and after the first leg of the CCL quarterfinals.
And while it held up well in the first leg with Homegrown defender Kevin Ellis getting the winning goal, Sporting KC had no chance without three of its four starters on its backline in Mexico City.Mariano Pavone -- nickname: "El Tanque" -- had goals in the second, 23rd and 55th minutes, and fellow Argentines Mauro Formica and Christian Gimenez added goals four minutes apart to put the series away midway through the second half.
Josh Gardner, who was already starting in place of suspended Seth Sinovic, came off injured late in the first half for Haitian Mechack Jerome, who was taken to the cleaners by Cruz Azul's Mexican star Marco Fabian in the second half. Sporting KC was also without Chance Myersand Aurelien Collin, leaving Matt Besleras the only regular in the back four.
It will be the "Concachampions" the rest of the way as Cruz Azul will join Tijuana and Toluca and Thursday's Arabe Unido-Alajuelense winner in the semifinals. American allegiances will now turn to Tijuana's contingent of U.S. stars who face Cruz Azul.
March 19 in Mexico City
Cruz Azul 5 Sporting KC 1. Goals: Pavone 2, 23, 55, Formica 66, Gimenez 70; Feilhaber 44.
Cruz Azul --Corona, Flores, Perea, Dominguez, Torrado, Napoles (Stringel 81), Gimenez, Fabian (Barrera 86), Formica, Rojas, Pavone (Valadez 83).
Sporting KC --Kronberg, Ellis, Opara, Besler, Gardner (Jerome 43), Nagamura (Sapong 72), Rosell, Feilhaber, Peterson, Bieler (Dwyer 67), Zusi.