The Full 90

Dull draw isn't the end of the line for Sporting KC

Updated: 2013-09-18T17:33:33Z

Charles Gooch

The Kansas City Star

The scoreline read that the match was a draw, but many fans (and at least one player) probably felt like the 1-1 tie with Real Esteli FC was a loss for Sporting Kansas City.

It was frustrating because Kansas City squandered chance after chance after chance (22 shots to Esteli's 6!) and absolutely dominated possession (66%-33%).

That's been Sporting KC's problem recently against "inferior" competition* in a cup format. Dominate the stat line, come up empty on the score line. (See also: Kickers, Richmond and SC, Orlando City in the Open Cup.)

*Real Esteli might be the best team in Nicaragua, but they've not won a single match in 36 attempts in a CONCACAF competition.

But, despite that frustration, SKC is still a favorite to reach the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.

"Bottom line is there's one more game in this competition and we need a result at home against the Honduran team to advance," midfielder Benny Feilhaber said after the match. "We're going to do everything we can to focus on that game when it comes and make sure that we're not looking back at this game as something that we regret. It's a big game to prove ourselves next time."

Even though Esteli picked up its first point of this group stage last night, they were also eliminated from contention for the knockout stages. Sporting KC, who won the first two games on the road, still tops the group right now with seven points. (Honduras' Olimpia with one game in hand, has 3 points.)

Which means Sporting KC's last match in the group stage -- at Sporting Park on Oct. 23 against Olimpia -- should be for a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Though, Kansas City could get some help next week.

Should Esteli conjure up another bit of magic and pick up its first ever win in CONCACAF play next Tuesday in Honduras, Kansas City will progress to the knockout stage. An Olimpia win or draw would keep the Honduran club alive either one or three points behind Sporting, respectively.*

*If you're wondering about confusing tie-breakers, the only way for those to come into play is if Olimpia draws with Esteli and then beats Kansas City here. It's quite cumbersome to explain it simply (you can read them here, scroll down to section 2.3), but since the tiebreakers are based on head-to-head performances, Olimpia would need to top KC by at least three goals to overturn the goal differential.

The important thing to remember is this: Despite the frustration, Kansas City controls it's own destiny and is in fine position to make the knockout stage of this competition.

And there's still a lot of soccer to be played in the league, starting this weekend against Toronto FC.

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