CONCACAF Champions League: Why Cruz Azul's performance at Sporting KC was one of their worst

After playing Sporting Kansas City last Wednesday, Marco Fabián said MLS is on par with Liga MX. This declaration, of course, came after his first-place side had one of its worst games this season when facing the defending MLS champions.

Namely, Fabián and his fellow teammates on roster that boasts some serious attacking talent struggled in an area of the field where they usually excel. La Máquina completed just 52.6 percent of their final passes in the attacking third, their worst performance in that area in 2014, including 11 Liga MX games.

Fabián and his fellow attackers had an especially horrid evening out compared to the team as a whole. Christian Giménez, one of Cruz Azul's primary playmakers, and winger Joao Rojas had their worst passing accuracies in the attacking third of the season last Wednesday night with Rojas having his worst performance by over 17 percent.

The lone forward up top, Mariano Pavone, was so disconnected from his teammates that he only attempted one pass in the attacking third.

One of the reasons Cruz Azul might have been so out of sync was Sporting Kansas City’s style of play, in particular their propensity to foul.

SKC fouled Cruz Azul 25 times, six more than they have been fouled in any game in Liga MX this season. This tactic disrupted their rhythm and did not allow them to get comfortable in the game. Uri Rosell was the most frequent violator, committing five fouls, all of which were in the middle third of the field, though he did not receive a booking.

Playing at altitude, however, should put a significant cramp in SKC’s high-pressure playing style, and though Sporting have played those concerns down, it could ultimately prove the difference between success and failure in Mexico City.