All it took was a draw to see Sporting KC advance from the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday night, and that is exactly what happened. Sporting KC played against Honduran side CD Olimpia at Sporting Park, with the match ending 0-0. Although no goals were scored, it was an entertaining match.
Sporting fielded a attack heavy side that included Teal Bunbury, C.J. Sapong and Jacob Peterson up top. It is known that the club places a lot of emphasis on winning the Champions League, and it was obviously with the team that was selected.
Peterson came close to open the scoring in the first half with a great shot from outside the 18-yard box. But Olimpia ‘keeper Noel Valladares was able to parry the ball out of bounds. Sporting controlled 68% of the possession against the Honduran side, who had all 10 field players playing behind the ball most of the game. It was an interesting tactic considering Olimpia could have advanced with a win. It appeared Olimpia was set up to catch Sporting KC on the counter, but the chances were few and far between.
The first half came to a close with a few decent chances for Sporting KC, but nothing too significant. Sporting KC should have scored three goals in the second half, but between good goalkeeping and bad officiating, the game ended 0-0.
Peterson once again had a great chance to score for Sporting KC, but his header was played too close to Valladares. It did appear that Sporting KC took the lead through midfielder Graham Zusi, but his goal was disallowed after a mysterious call. Zusi was not offside when the ball was played to him, and the ball was played by an Olimpia defender. The call left many Sporting fans scratching their head, and jeering the head official.
Bunbury had another great chance to get Sporting KC on the score sheet. He found himself wide open in front of goal after a ball was played over the top of the defense. But he couldn’t connect well with the ball, and his shot fell right into Vallardes hands.
Dom Dwyer entered as a substitute towards the end of the match, and also had a great opportunity to score. He was in a one-on-one situation with Valladares, but once again his shot was too close to the goalkeeper.
With the draw, Sporting KC advances to the Champions League quarterfinal. Since they will not finish the top four, Sporting KC will not get home field advantage in the quarterfinals. They will play in Kansas City for the first leg of the quarterfinals, and at their opponents stadium for the second leg. Sporting KC finishes their MLS season this Saturday when they travel to Philadelphia. A win in Philadelphia, and a New York Red Bulls draw or loss to the Chicago Fire, would see Sporting KC lift the Supporters’ Shield.