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MLS- Sporting Kansas City

Ellis goal gives Sporting KC 1-0 CCL win vs. Cruz Azul

Peter Vermes

By TATE STEINLAGE 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City’s Kevin Ellis has been known as the hometown kid ever since he signed with the club in 2011. However, Wednesday night the defender was simply known as the hero, as his score helped give Sporting KC a 1-0 victory against Cruz Azul, and a slight edge heading into next week’s second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals in Mexico City.

Ellis, who knew he’d be starting just a few days ago, scored the game’s lone goal in the 17th minute. The chance came off a corner kick that was cleared 30 yards out. Sporting KC forward Claudio Bieler came up with the ball and flicked a pass with the outside of his right foot to Ellis, who wasted no time turning inside and blasting home a ball just past the outstretched arms of Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jesus Corona.

It was Ellis’ first professional goal in a competitive match, and one he says he’ll remember for a long time.

“It means a lot (scoring the goal), but more importantly we got the win and that’s what means the most,” Ellis told SBI after the match. “We know in these games, these home and away games, you have to win the home games. You have to get the result at home. That was our main focus, to get the three points and go to Mexico City winning.”

Sporting KC continued to attack the Mexican side after scoring the goal, nearly doubling the scoreline in the 44th minute off a skipping shot from Bieler that Corona barely tipped away.

However, the Sporting KC attack withered coming out of the halftime break, as Cruz Azul sent three or four players on directional runs every time they received the ball in the midfield.

An equalizer was all but in-goal in the 55th minute for Azul, but defender Ike Opara came roaring into the box to poke it to the right of the net. Seconds later off the corner kick, defender Seth Sinovic cleared a ball off the line to calm the nerves of the Sporting KC supporters in the north end of Sporting Park.

Cruz Azul continued to press offensively deep into the second half, looking to steal an important road goal, but the back four defenders of Ellis, Sinovic, Matt Besler, and Ike Opara did enough to earn an important shutout.

“I thought we did a very good job sealing the deal,” Opara said. “The game just provided so many things that happened and you had to adjust on the fly, so I thought we did a good job seeing it out.”

The 1-0 aggregate lead is crucial for Sporting KC, but manager Peter Vermes says the biggest challenge remains at Estadio Azul next week.

“I think our worth ethic ruled the day, but if you really take it over a 90-minute match, this is first half,” Vermes said. “We have another half when we go to Mexico, so we still have a big challenge in front of us.”

——-

What did you think of Sporting KC’s performance? Will they have enough to top Cruz Azul in Mexico? Let us know in the comments below.

28 comments
  • MJ

    I can’t be the only one that thought the referee was absolutely terrible. It’s one thing to miss fouls or have bad judgment calls, it’s another to give the fouled party yellow cards… on multiple occasions. Going forward, I fully expect the Central American refs to be what ultimately screws the MLS teams from going forward in these 2nd legs/next rounds.

    Like

      • Reboot

        Would you take Marco Fabian or Graham Zusi? Giminez or Feilhaber? Besler or Perea?

        I think two out of three for me would be Americans.

        Like

      • Cosmosfan

        problem is after 2-3 players the clear advantage in the rest of the first team and bench is stacked for the Mexican sides. They have been much much better for as long as i can remember. MLS teams are still well off the pace against their Mexican counterparts.

        Like

      • Devin Brown

        I’m not sure using Gimenez and Feilhaber was the best example to prove your point.

        Like

      • Maykol

        I would take fabian (even though i hate the man), chaco, and besler easy

        Like

      • MJ

        Seems fair to say you didn’t watch the game, much like 99.9% of soccer fans. So I’ll forgive your shortsightedness on this one.

        Like

      • Maykol

        Haha do you actually think that LA,SJ, and SKC have better squads then toluca, Cruz azul, and xolos? Enjoy the away leg man, its gonna be a bumpy ride

        Like

  • Cosmosfan

    Its actually a pretty bad result for SKC. Cruz Azul played an entire line up of back up and reserve players. To now have to go to the D.F. and play at altitude against a team that hasn’t really given up any goals at home this year and play against their actual first team…one single goal advantage will disappear really quickly.

    LA’s result is slightly better, at least the travel and altitude isnt a concern in their away leg. They really needed to both win by multiple goals at home.

    Like

    • alabamafutbol

      Is there an away goals rule in CCL? If so they both did well to keep clean sheets at home. I feel like all goals count the same in CCL though, someone refresh my memory

      Like

      • alabamafutbol

        That’s good news. If LA/KC can just nick an away goal they’ll force the home side to score 3. Which history shows is more than feasible for Liga mx teams, but it’d make things interesting

        Like

    • mouf

      Jesus Corona (c); Gerardo Flores, Julio Dominguez, Luis Amaranto, Rogelio Chavez; Mauro Formica, Christian Gimenez, Alejandro Castro; Joao Rojas, Mariano Pavone, Marco Fabian

      “back up and reserve players”

      Im not entirely familiar with their line up game in and game out, but I think your statement isn’t close to true.

      Like

    • Jim

      Well…you’re wrong on this one Cosmosfan. Their starting 11 included their first string keeper and their top 6 goal scorers. There was a report from some media outlets that they would play a reserve team, but that’s not what happened.

      Like

      • Cosmosfan

        Fair enough, they stated they were bringing reserves in the press..if they in fact played a majority starting X! then the result isn’t quite as bad as i though..but still not good either considering MLS’s history in this competition going to mexico.

        Like

      • frank from santiago

        Cosmosfan, so you DIDN’T watch the game, right? because from your comment ” they stated they were bringing reserves in the press..if they in fact played a majority starting X! then the result isn’t quite as bad as i though”.
        you’ve gotta love these dudes that don’t watch games, yet they talk all this junk….haha

        Like

      • Kevmueller

        Also for what it is worth Sporting did not play all their starting XI either. I can think of at least 3 and maybe 4 that would not be first team choices for Sporting (One was the goal scorer). That is what happens when you start the season with 5 games in 15 days.

        Like

    • Drew

      You couldn’t be more wrong about the lineup Cruz Azul put out there. From everything I read leading up to the match, CA has been dominating liga MX because of their front 4 guys (pavone, formica, marco fabian and joao rojas). They have scored 12 of the teams 18 goals this season. Only 2 of their starters from the Toluca game, which was so far their biggest match of the season, did not start this game so I don’t know how you can say they played with a bunch of their reserve players. The 2 other players that started last night were subs off the bench in the Toluca game.

      Like

  • Devin Brown

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An MLS team carries a 1-0 lead into Mexico…

    Like

    • chuck

      …and everybody is certain the gap has closed and this time advantage will stick, then…

      Like

  • Peaton

    1) What is up with P.V.´s jacket lining?
    2) SBI, is the combo of 2 wins and a draw the best 3 results ever for a day of Mexico v. U.S. club soccer?

    Like

  • RBNY

    Sporting needed to score at least 2 last night. The keeper is gonna need to wear body armor to survive all of the shots he’s gonna face.

    Like

    • dvillamizar

      All Sporting needs to do is score 1 goal, that forces Cruz Azul to score 3 to win it. Cruz Azul 2 – Sporting 1 still puts KC ahead via the away goals rule.

      Like

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