Sporting Kansas City qualified for the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday. Now, we know who they'll play: Mexican side Cruz Azul.
The Kansas City Star
That's a pretty tall order of a match up for KC. Cruz Azul is a regional power and have won the tournament five times and were runners-up in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
The two teams will play a home-and-away series in early March. The first leg will be at Sporting Park with the second in Mexico City. The winner will be determined by aggregate goals and will face the winner of Tijuana (MEX)-Los Angeles Galaxy in the semifinals.
The quarterfinal match ups are set by ranking the eight teams based on group-stage records. The other fixtures: Toluca (MEX) vs. San Jose Earthquakes and Arabe Unido (PAN) vs. Alajuelense (CR).
Sporting KC won its group with 8 points and a +4 goal differential and will be the seventh seed. Cruz Azul finished with a perfect record (12 points) and a goal differential of +8 to earn the second seed.
It will be a tricky fixture, as Kansas City will very much in preseason/early season form. Meanwhile, Cruz Azul will be well into their season.
As Mike Kuhn at Down the Byline is oft to point out, only twice has an MLS team won a home-away series with a Mexican club. Kansas City did it against Santos Laguna in 2002; Seattle did it to UNAL in 2012-13. Only Dallas and Seattle have won a match in Mexico, both in 2011-12.
Kansas City is 1-5-2 all-time in competitive international matches against Mexican clubs. The last time KC went to Mexico was during the 2009 preseason with games against Atlas, Guadalajara and Selamanca.