An MLS team winning a Concacaf Champions League series against a Liga MX team is one thing – until recently quite a rare thing – and doing so by a comfortably wide margin (5-0 on aggregate) is another.
But dominating comprehensively enough to inspire the other side’s fans to cheer you on? That’s a whole other level. And that’s exactly what happened on Thursday night at Estadio Nemesio Diez in Toluca, Mexico as Sporting Kansas City controlled the scoreline, the tempo and the run of play in the second leg of their CCL round-of-16 matchup vs. Toluca:
Over Liga MX’s history of success in CCL, MLS teams have been more likely to be the ones chasing and suffering when “Olé” chants like that one ring out across a stadium, and that was not lost on Sporting manager Peter Vermes and his players.
“I think the guys realized that their fans appreciated our play,” Vermes told reporters postgame. “We didn't come just to sit back and absorb pressure. We came to play our way and they appreciated it, and I think they appreciated the entertainment aspect of it. That's always a very positive thing, especially coming into a game like this and a place like this because this club has an incredible history. We have a ton of respect for them and it was not an easy game by any means today.”
Sporting KC win at Toluca brings MLS record to— Jonathan Yardley (@jtyardley) March 1, 2019
5-41-9 at Mexican teams in competition
7-32 in 2-leg series
3-22 in series when 2nd leg is in Mexico
Atlanta, Houston, Red Bulls are next up in #CCLFever quarterfinals!
According to OPTA's statistics, SKC controlled more than 60 percent of possession against Toluca – who are struggling mightily in league play at present and just fired head coach Hernan Cristante – and completed 631 passes at an 89 percent accuracy rate.
“"It's business as usual,” said goalkeeper Tim Melia. “Everyone will get their rest tonight and tomorrow, and then we'll have a light training to get everyone's legs back. I thought this game worked in our favor in the sense that we had so much possession at the end. We saved our legs a little bit, but it's going to be a really difficult game against a quality opponent in LAFC.”