The Leagues Cup came to an ugly end for Sporting KC on Friday night. They fell 4-1 at the hands of Toluca FC, who have now scored four goals in all three Leagues Cup matches.
Toluca got to the Round of 32 by winning Group 4 of the Central Region with wins over Nashville SC and Colorado Rapids. It was a 4-3 thriller against Nashville but a resounding 4-1 win in Denver.
Those eight goals in their first two games were scored by 7 different players.
There were nervy moments from both sides to start the match. In the first minute, Andreu Fontas committed a foul right at the top of the D that was blocked by the wall. Then just seconds later, Gadi Kinda was brought down in the box. The referee waved for him to get up, but replays seemed to show that he should have been pointing at the spot in stead.
John Pulskamp, The Big Bear, was back between the posts and kept it scoreless for as long as he could. He made two massive saves, once coming off his line to block a one-on-one breakaway shot from Pedro Raul, then diving down to save another from point blank range.
⏱ 25’ | 👹 0-0 🔷 | #𝟭𝟲𝘃𝗼𝘀DeFinal
— Toluca FC (@TolucaFC) August 5, 2023
But the stage was set and Toluca scored two goals in the span of three minutes. The first came in the 29th minute off the head of Sporting KC defender Dany Rosero. The Columbian was forced to make a desperate diving header to block a cross, which ended up in the back of the net.
The SKC defense was then cut apart for the second. Robert Morales played in a perfect cross for the 6’4″ Brazilian Raul, wide open behind the defense. He didn’t miss this time.
Tensions were rising and the match was getting chippy. The entire stadium thought Sporting KC had pulled one back in stoppage time, but it was called back after an offside review. Felipe Gutierrez fired an absolute rocket that nearly took down the goal when it hit the crossbar, Khiry got the first touch which then fell to Fontas who hammered it home. But Khiry was still just barely offside when Guti unleashed his fury.
Pulskamp did his best to keep SKC within striking distance with another big save to open the second half. But Toluca made it three in the 55th minute with some nice combination play. It was a mirror of the second goal on the other side of the field. This time Raul played the cross for Morales.
They twisted the knife with another easy goal in the 63rd minute. Sporting KC just fell asleep during a free kick. It was a simple ball over the defense for Juan Dominguez. He was all by himself, made a touch around Pulskamp, and called game with 30 minutes left.
If you’re still reading at this point. I applaud you, you gluttons for punishment. Your reward is a consolation goal from Willy Agada. He came on for Gadi Kinda in the 71st and immediately almost scored. The crossbar robbed him as well. But in the 88th he got his goal by cleaning up a mess in the six yard box.
Sporting KC can now sit and think about what they’ve done until MLS resumes play on August 26th against San Jose.