Teams: Sporting KC v Club Atletico Independiente (#SKCvCAI)
When: Thursday, March, 14th at 7:00 PM CT
Where: Children's Mercy Park
How to Watch: Univision Deportes | YahooSports.com
Sporting Kansas City is the last hope for Major League Soccer in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League after the New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo and Atlanta United all fell in their quarterfinal series.
Club Atletico Independiente de la Chorrera (CAI or Independiente) and Sporting KC are the last remaining quarterfinal round to be decided. Whichever team wins, they will also be the only team not from Mexico with a chance to win CCL.
Santos Laguna rolled over the Red Bulls, Tigres dominated Houston and Monterrey dominated MLS Champion Atlanta in Mexico and held on Wednesday night to move to the semifinals.
The winner of Sporting KC and CAI’s match will face Monterrey in the next round.
What Sporting KC needs to do to advance
Sporting Kansas City lost 2-1 in the first-leg in Panama last week but grabbed a very important road goal. If SKC defeats Independiente 1-0 in the second leg, the aggregate would even at 2-2 but SKC would advance on the away goals tiebreaker.
Independiente advance with a win, a draw, or a one-goal loss in which they score at least twice.
If Sporting KC wins with a 2-1 result, the aggregate with away goals will be equal and the teams would go straight into a penalty shootout.
Who are CA Independiente?
A great way to learn about CAI is through a scouting report by TBT community member Farmhand from before the first meeting.
For a separate look, read Sam Kovzan’s piece for another in depth look.
There is no secret to CAI’s success so far, they concede possession and counter with speedy and skilled attackers. At home they used their “unique” turf to advantage, picking off passes and turning them into chances.
Sporting KC had 71% possession, 580 passes to 237 with 85% to 65% accuracy and other similar stats with the exception of shots. CAI had an 18 to 11 shot advantage, primarily off of quick counters.
When CAI beat Toronto FC in Panama, the stats were remarkably close. TFC also had 71% possession. Also they made 590 passes with 88% accuracy. The big difference is TFC ended up returning home down 4-0 where SKC is only down 2-1.
In the Canadian cold, CAI was not nearly as effective. TFC again dominated the stats but even in the cold the visitors pulled out a 1-1 draw with Toronto.
Sporting Kansas City
OUT: Jimmy Medranda (M) - knee
QUESTIONABLE: Andreu Fontas (D) - hip pointer
Suspended after next caution: Seth Sinovic (D), Daniel Salloi (M)
International duty: None
Suspended after next caution: Juan Gonzalez (F), Gerardo Negrete (D), Omar Browne (M), Abdiel Ayarza (M), Romeesh Ivey (M), Ruben Barrow (F)
International duty: None
This is the second all-time meeting with Independiente winning 2-1 in the first leg
Concacaf Champions League history: Sporting Kansas City - 3 appearances (2016/17, 2014/15, 2013/14): 8 wins, 5 losses, 4 ties (26 goals) … Independiente - first appearance: 2 win, 0 losses, 1 tie (7 goals)
Referee: Joel Aguilar
Assistant ref: Juan Francisco Zumba
Assistant ref: Helpys Feliz
4th official: Daneon Parchment
Manager Peter Vermes will have an almost full selection to choose from. Other than Andreu Fontas (and long term injury Jimmy Medranda), everyone else is healthy and ready. With having just played on Sunday, and their next league match this coming Sunday, Vermes will have to keep those efforts in mind as well.
Fortunately a couple factors make his selection a little easier. The 2-0 win over Philly came in a slow game and with a man advantage for part of it, lessening the overall toll on players bodies. Roger Espinoza had to sit out that game for a red card suspension as well so he has a week of rest.
While SKC travels to face Colorado on Sunday, because of the FIFA window, they will not have another match until the 30th versus Montreal so player will have another chance to recharge their batteries. Well everyone that isn’t called up for international duty at least.
Expect a lineup that Vermes thinks will get the job done, with as many first team starters as possible.
Prediction: SKC 2-1 CAI (4-3 penalties)
Sporting KC should dominate the game but it will be hard to keep CAI from getting a road goal as well.
What do you all think? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.