Two teams that dismantled their opponents in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 will square off in the first leg of the Quarterfinals on Wednesday night at Estadio Agustin Sanchez in La Chorrera, Panama.
Sporting Kansas City and Independiente have their sights set on reaching the semifinal stage of the Champions League for the first time, but only one can advance to the next round North America’s most prestigious club tournament.
Wednesday’s showdown in Panama is slated for 7 p.m. CT with an English-language live stream on YahooSports.com and the Yahoo Sports app. Univision Deportes will broadcast the game live in Spanish, while listeners can follow the action locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish). The new Sporting KC App will also provide in-game updates throughout matchday.
Sporting made history in their Round of 16 win over Toluca: the 5-0 aggregate victory was the largest by an American team over a Mexican side in the 57-year history of the Champions League and marked just the fifth time that an MLS club had prevailed on Mexican soil. The result propels Sporting into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014, equaling the club’s best-ever showing in the tournament.
After comfortably beating Toluca last Thursday, Sporting traveled from Mexico to Los Angeles where they suffered a last-gasp 2-1 loss in Sunday’s MLS season opener at Banc of California Stadium. Krisztian Nemeth bagged his third goal in as many games for the visitors, but LAFC struck twice in the second half-including a 94th-minute winner from Adama Diomande-to snap Sporting’s seven-game unbeaten run in the state of California.
Led by 11th-year manager Peter Vermes, Sporting are braced for an unprecedented third straight away game in a third different time zone in a third separate country. A heavy fixture list, combined with nearly 6,000 air miles logged over the last week, could prompt Vermes to tweak a starting lineup that has remained unchanged through the first three matches of 2019.
The Concacaf Champions League unfolds in a fixed, knockout-style bracket through the final. Every matchup will be contested over two legs on a home-and-away basis. Just like the Round of 16, the away goals rule will be applied in the Quarterfinals if the aggregate score is tied after the second leg. If the teams are still level on away goals, extra time will not be played and a penalty shootout will determine the winner.
Making their Champions League debut, Independiente took control in the Round of 16 with a stunning 4-0 first-leg home win over Canadian giants Toronto FC on Feb. 19. Winger Romeesh Ivey bagged a brace, Panamanian international midfielder Omar Browne recorded a goal and an assist, and striker Jorman Aguilar opened the scoring as Toronto failed to register a single shot on target.
Manager Francisco Perlo’s men showed their professionalism in the return leg last week at frigid BMO Field, defending resolutely and scoring on the counter through Browne to secure a 1-1 draw. In both games, Independiente’s backline was anchored by center back pairing Gerardo Negrete and 40-year-old captain Manuel Torres, who has featured 35 times for the Panama Men’s National Team and competed at the 2007 and 2009 Concacaf Gold Cups.
Independiente’s beginnings originate with the club’s founding in 1982.
After competing in the local leagues of La Chorrera, Las Abejitas earned promotion to Panama’s second division for the first time in 1994. Independiente moved into Estadio Agustin Sanchez in 2009, shortly after the venue received a $2 million renovation, and in 2013 the club debuted in Panama’s top-flight Liga Panamena de Futbol. The team claimed its first league championship during the 2018 Clausura season, a feat that helped vault Independiente into the 2019 Champions League.
Left back Seth Sinovic is the only Sporting player who received a yellow card in the Toluca series, and would therefore serve a one-game suspension in the second leg on March 14 with another booking.
On the opposite sideline, six Independiente players would miss the return fixture at Children’s Mercy Park if they receive a yellow card on Wednesday. That list includes Browne, Ivey, Abdiel Ayarza, Ruben Barrow, Juan Gonzalez and Gerardo Negrete.
- Story from Sporting KC