Thursday night at Children’s Mercy Park, Sporting Kansas City will welcome Toluca FC for their round of 16 matchup in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League. The matchup will be Kansas City’s fourth time meeting a Liga MX team in the competition, the fifth time they’ve played a home-home series against a Liga MX side, and the seventh different match up in a competitive game against Mexican opposition. Ahead of the match up against Toluca, here’s a trip down memory lane to the other matchups that Kansas City has had with Liga MX opposition.
The First One in 2001
Kansas City’s first time facing a Liga MX team in a competitive game came in 2001, when the Wizards earned a place in the 2001 Copa Mercanorte along with the New York Red Bulls (then still the Metrostars). The Wizards were grouped with Santos Laguna of Liga MX, Sporting Cristal of Peru, and Barcelona out of Ecuador.
KC’s first game against Santos was their second game of the group stage on August 8th in Torreon, Mexico, the Wizards lost that game 4-2 with Matt McKeon and Roy Lassiter scoring KC’s goals in the game. That match had a bit of controversy to it as the referees from Trinidad and Tobago who were originally supposed to do the game did not make it, and instead Mexican referees filled in that night. Kansas City defender, Nick Garcia was sent off in the 24th minute.
Their second match up against the Liga MX side came as the final game of the group stage for both teams. The Wizards had finished their MLS season two months before, in September falling to the Miami Fusion six points to three. Playing at Arrowhead, the Wizards lost 1-0 to close out their 2001 season.
2002 - Santos Laguna Again
In 2002, the Wizards again were in international competition, competing in the restarted, CONCACAF Champions Cup. After topping Trinidad and Tobago side, W Connection FC 3-0 on aggregate, the Wizards were faced with a familiar opponent in Santos Laguna. Unlike the Copa Mercanorte, which was in a group stage, this was a home-home knock out competition.
Santos Laguna hosted the first leg in Torreon, Mexico on April 10th, winning 2-1 on the night with Gary Glasgow scoring the Wizards lone goal. Two weeks later, the two teams met at Arrowhead for the return leg and goals by Carey Talley and Chris Brown led the Wizards to a 2-0 win and a 3-2 win on aggregate, becoming the first MLS side to win a home-home series against a Liga MX opponent.
A New Opponent
KC’s third encounter (and first not against Santos Laguna) came in August of the 2002 season in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup against Morelia Monarcas, who had advanced against the Chicago Fire in the prior round. On August 7th, the Wizards traveled to Mexico and were soundly beaten 6-1 with Dario Fabbro scoring KC’s lone goal in the lopsided loss. The return leg on the 28th obviously became a formality for Morelia’s advancement and a 1-1 draw between the two teams saw KC eliminated from the competition, with Chris Brown scoring the goal for the home side in the draw.
The 2009 SuperLiga
KC’s next two encounters came in one off games in the 2009 SuperLiga. The first on June 21st was against partner club, Atlas, in a neutral site game that took place at Hermann Stadium on the campus of St. Louis University. A game that most fans that attended will say was one of the most miserable games they’ve ever attended because of the heat. A game that is probably more remembered by fans as occurring right after the US got a 3-0 win over Turkey and Brazil beat Italy 3-0 to send the US through to the semifinals of the Confederations Cup and because the stadium only had a single water fountain working in temperatures that were over 100 with the heat index than the drab 0-0 game on the field.
KC’s second game against a Liga MX side in the 2009 SuperLiga was against their old friends, Santos Laguna, at Community America Ballpark. The Wizards fell behind 2-0 in the second half to the Mexican side before Claudio Lopez gave some life to the team with a free kick goal in the 80th minute. A final goal in stoppage time by Santos gave them a 3-1 win and allowed them to advance.
2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions League
It wasn’t until 2014 that Kansas City again played a Liga MX side in a competitive game, this time it was Cruz Azul in the Round of 16 of the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions League. Sporting had made it to the round of 16 after winning their three team group, going 2-0-2 defeating Real Esteli and Olimpia on the road both by a 2-0 score line, then getting two draws at home 1-1 against Esteli and 0-0 against Olimpia.
KC finished as the seventh seed of the eight group winners and was matched up with the second seeded Cruz Azul. Kansas City won the first leg at home on March 12th thanks to a goal by Kevin Ellis to win 1-0. In the second leg in Mexico City, Kansas City feel behind 2-0 in the first 25 minutes, but then before half time pulled a goal back from Benny Feilhaber to go in down 2-1 on the night, but level 2-2 on aggregate and through on away goals if they held on in the second half. Unfortunately KC allowed three more goals to lose 5-1 on the night and send them out of the competition.
Overall Record & Stats
So Kansas City is 2-6-2 in competitive games against four different Liga MX teams, 2-2-1 at home, 0-4 on the road, and 0-0-1 at a neutral site. KC has scored 10 goals in the 10 games against Mexican competition while conceding 21 goals. They’ve scored five goals at home and five on the road. They’ve conceded just five at home while conceding 16 on the road. Eleven of those 16 goals have come in their last two trips south of the border falling 6-1 to Morelia in 2002 and 5-1 to Cruz Azul in 2014.
With the competitive games out of the way, a quick glance at KC’s four different friendlies against Liga MX teams during the league season from over the years as well (note this doesn’t include matches from preseason trips to Mexico over the years). The first game was back in 1997 when KC played a 1-1 draw against Veracruz. That was followed by yet another match up against Santos Laguna, this time in Houston in 2003 when Chris Brunt scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win for the Wizards.
In 2008, the Wizards hosted club partner, Atlas at Community America ballpark, winning 2-1 with goals by Nelson Pizarro and Michael Kraus. The winner coming in second half stoppage time. The club’s final friendly took play in 2011 at Children’s Mercy Park (then LIVESTRONG Sporting Park) when Sporting earned a 2-2 draw with Chivas thanks to goals from Soony Saad and Kevin Ellis.