Cruz Azul's run of play in the second half almost gave them a goal but Sporting KC was able to hold on to a narrow 1-0 win in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Sporting KC was playing well in the first part of the game and it finally paid off for them in the 17th minute. Claudio Bieler sent an absolute peach of a pass to an open Kevin Ellis near the box and Ellis put the ball in strong to give Sporting KC a 1-0 lead. It was Bieler's first assist in the Champions League and Ellis' first goal since 2011.
Things would not get better for Cruz Azul when Rogelio Chavez would be booked for time wasting in the 22nd minute. He earned the caution by delaying the game while Paulo Nagamura was down and play was stopped. It was only a couple minutes later, however, before they almost turned it around. Rojas received the ball in space behind the line and it took a tremendous defensive effort from Ike Opara to stop the chance.
Ellis would remain in the highlights in the 44th minute. After getting involved in a confrontation following a Sinovic foul, the referee booked Ellis for going into the fight. Less than a minute later, Cruz Azul almost capitalized on the restart as Christian Gimenez got the ball and open space on the side of the box but his shot went wide and out of bounds for a goal kick.
That would be the last chance of the half as Sporting KC went into the locker room with a 1-0 advantage.
Cruz Azul came into the second half with more intensity and had a phenomenal couple of opportunities in the 55th minute. The first came when Rojas got the ball on a breakaway behind the back line and beat Kronberg on the side, but his shot was deflected away by a sprinting Ike Opara. The ensuing corner was then put on frame by Cruz Azul but it was deflected by Kronberg and cleared away by Sinovic to keep Sporting KC in the lead.
Sporting KC calmed down afterwards and were able to put some pressure on the Cruz Azul back line. In the 63rd minute, Zusi took a shot from 25 yards out that went off the crossbar before it was cleared out. It was the best chance of the half for Sporting KC at that point.
Perea would be the next Cruz Azul man to get a caution after he cut down Graham Zusi near the sideline in the 74th minute. Zusi was advancing down the line with the ball when Perea went in late with a tackle, stopping a Sporting KC chance on the counter. A few minutes later, Seth Sinovic would earn a yellow card for delaying a restart, which means he will be suspended for the second leg of the quarterfinals.
Things were getting chippy late in the match when Dom Dwyer was taken down near the sideline in the 90th minute. Sapong went over to the confrontation and got into an argument with a couple of Cruz Azul players. Sapong would be given a yellow for the instigation. That would end up being the last action of the game as Cruz Azul was not able to advance the ball again and Sporting KC held on to a 1-0 win.
Sporting will take that 1-0 advantage into Mexico City for the second leg next Wednesday, but first they have a date with FC Dallas on Saturday. Cruz Azul have a home match with Tijuana before they welcome SKC next week.