By ALAN HAINKEL
KANSAS CITY, Kansas — Sporting Kansas City advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League as winners of Group 2 after a scoreless draw against CD Olimpia of Honduras at Sporting Park on Wednesday night.
Despite playing a high pressure game, Sporting KC was unable to score a goal in front of a sellout crowd at home. At least not any goals that counted. Sporting KC had two goals disallowed, leaving Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes scratching his head.
“I’m still trying to understand, on the goal that we scored, what the actual call was, but, at the end, we needed to win or tie the game for us advancing,” Vermes said. “Being the first time that the club has entered this competition, it was a major goal of ours this year, so I think we’re extremely pleased with the fact that we’ve advanced to the knockout stage and we’ll start preparing now for next year.”
The game was also incredibly physical with 32 fouls committed and four yellow cards shown.
During the post-game press conference, Olimpia head coach Juan Carlos Espinoza said he through a translator he thought the referee had done very well, but that the calls had seemed to favor the home team.
When he was asked about those comments, Vermes seemed to be stunned.
“Wow,” Vermes said. “And I’ll say wow again. Obviously, he was watching a completely different game. That wasn’t the case at all. Unfortunately, look everybody has their own opinion of what the game looks like, but for us, there’s not much to comment on. Basically, we’ve advanced and we go to the knockout stage and that’s the most important thing to us.”
Sporting KC dominated the game with 70 percent possession and more chances and the defense didn’t leave much for goalkeeper Eric Kronberg to do.
“Everyone was sharp and on their game,” Kronberg said. “It was very important for them to do well tonight, and they did their job.”
Defender Matt Besler differed from some of his teammates on his analysis of Olimpia not throwing numbers forward sooner, considering Olimpia needed a win to advance.
“I didn’t really think about it too much,” Besler said. “I just tried to come out and play our game. We pretty much played the first half like we normally do. We pressed high up the field. We were going to try to win the game. I think, tactically, we maybe dropped off a little bit the last 20 minutes, but that’s natural when you’re protecting a lead or a tie and knowing that a tie gets you through.”
Sporting KC will now get a break from the regional competition. The club will host the first leg of the quarterfinal during the first week of March before traveling for the second week. Their opponent will be determined after the finish of group play on Thursday.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there was match fixing here. I have never seen a center ref waive off his linesman 3 times in a game for offsides. All to favor Olimpia, and the goal that was called back was mind boggling. I guess the only saving grace was the lack of a phantom penalty, but that opportunity really didn’t present itself. So i guess the level of the ref is upgrade from corrupt to inept.
It will get more difficult for MLS fans and players to be interested in the CCL if the officiating continues to be sooooo bad.
Wow, nice job selling this game out!