A Clásico Regio in the final of the Concacaf Champions League appears inevitable after Monterrey routed Sporting KC.
The Rayados of Monterrey took care of business in the first leg of their semifinal match against Sporting Kansas City and will take a 5-0 lead into the return match in Kansas next week.
Dorlan Pabón scored twice despite having an off night and the Rayados were rampant in the second half, scoring three times and creating scoring chance after scoring chance.
The Rayados scored their first goal against the run of play as Sporting KC enjoyed better possession in the opening minutes of the match while the hosts appeared discombobulated. The visitors were circulating the ball in the Monterrey defensive third, and moving without the ball, finding plenty of space as the Rayados took themselves out of position.
In one sequence, Monterrey double-teamed KC playmaker Johnny Russell and knocked the ball loose and then both players watched, waiting for the other to scoop up the loose ball. Instead, Russell, gathered the ball and nearly produced a scoring chance.
Then, Monterrey striker Rogelio Funes Mori found room wide left and sent a lead diagonal pass to the opposite side where Dorlan Pabon raced past both central defenders into the box and cut back a shot past goalie Tim Melia and inside the left post.
Seven minutes later, Pabon got deep on the right flank and sent a low cross into a crowd that Rodolfo Pizarro clipped and the ball bounced to Funes Mori who mishit the ball which fooled Melia. The goalie dived thinking he’d get a hard shot, and sprawled on the ground he managed to knock aside the spinning ball and Avilés Hurtado reacted first, pounding the rebound into the back of the net.
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The weirdness continued the rest of the half. Sporting KC had 64% possession but managed only 2 shots (none on goal), while Monterrey fired off 10 shots, 6 on goal. The flashy Pizarro was more effective pressing and harassing Kansas City players in midfield, stealing the ball twice, but had few chances to contribute on offense.
If not for his goal and his participation in the second goal, you’d have to say Pabón had a terrible first half. He flubbed a clear scoring chance in minute 20 and was guilty of far too many ill-advised passes, turning the ball over and frustrating teammates who were flooding forward. His errors – and Kansas City’s constant fouling – limited
59’ – Carlos Rodríguez brilliant lead pass to Pabón wide right and he pulled it back to defender John Medina who continued an overlapping run into the box before hitting a low cross that KC left back Seth Sinovic deflected slightly, sending the ball zipping across the goalie box to Jesús Gallardo who easily left-footed it into the roof of the net at the back post.
Pabón squandered another wide-open chance in minute 64 then committed yet another turnover in 69, although Pizarro stole the ball right back. The shifty midfielder was a terror in the final 20 minutes, displaying his playmaking skills and dribbling past defenders seemingly at will.
Defender Nico Sánchez converted a penalty in minute 70 after Hurtado was taken down in the box on a rash challenge by sub Yohan Croizet. Sánchez will miss the return match after picking up his 2nd yellow card of the tournament in minute 49.
In a flash it was 5-0. Funes Mori stole the ball near the left sideline as Graham Zusi tried to dribble out of his defensive zone. Funes Mori pushed it to Gallardo, who fed Pizarro who filtered a pass to Hurtado deep in the box who cut it back to Pizarro who made a fabulous spinning touch pass through a crowd to the right side and Pabón blasted it home.
The two teams will meet again in Kansas City next Thursday and the winner will face either the Tigres or Santos in the Final. The host Tigres defeated Santos 3-0 in their first-leg match on Wednesday with the return match set to take place in Torreón next week.