Monterrey and Sporting Kansas City both went into this match looking to get a result in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League semifinal played at the BBVA Bancomer in Mexico tonight, but it would be Monterrey fans that would be celebrating as los Rayados reminded everyone that they are still one of the best teams in Mexico and, along with their crosstown rivals Tigres UANL, one of the favorites to win both the CCL trophy and the Liga MX Clausura title as well.
Goals poured in from the hosts, as Dorlan Pabón, Avilés Hurtado, Jesús Gallardo, and Nico Sanchez all scored goals in what became a comfortable 5-0 win for the hosts over another MLS opponent, as Monterrey had defeated Atlanta United in the quarterfinals of the CCL by a score of 3-0 at home and 3-1 on aggregate to advance.
¡DORLAN, DORLAN, DORLAN, DORLAN! ¡¡GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLL DE MONTERREY!! ¡Los platicamos toooodooooooo¡ @enriquebermudez@Rayados 1-0 @SportingKC— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) April 5, 2019
EN VIVO https://t.co/gqhUZ6rc7i pic.twitter.com/xG96cIl1u6
The game had barely started when Monterrey first got on the board. Dorlan Pabón was released past two Sporting KC defenders by Funes Mori and the Monterrey captain made no mistake, dribbling into the box until he was able to shoot across the frame of goal and put it past the Sporting KC keeper, who was given almost no chance by his defenders. Seven minutes in, and Monterrey were just getting started.
More poor defending from Sporting KC saw them go down another goal in the 14th minute as Rodolfo Pizarro was able to get a low cross into the box that somehow found its way to Funes Mori. The Argentine striker wasn’t able to get full contact on the ball, so his shot merely dribbled towards the SKC keeper, Tim Melia, who was only able to paw the ball away from him. Despite the decent effort to stop the shot, the KC defenders merely watched the ball as Hurtado raced past them and pounced on the rebound to put in a second goal.
Monterrey closed out the half as Sporting KC in decent control, but without a whole lot of a sense of urgency to score any more goals. Not a great look for los Rayados as a failure to follow up on early leads had come back to bite them in a number of games in both the Apertura and Clausura.
The second half saw Monterrey explode for three more goals. Monterrey came out of the blocks flying in the second half, and it was only a matter of time before a third goal was scored. The third goal was scored from a good run by Stefan Medina, who beat his man badly in the KC box, and his pass across the face of goal found Gallardo at the back post, who made no mistake and slotted the ball home.
Normally this would be about when Monterrey would switch off and coast through the rest of the match, but between the disappointment of the draw against Cruz Azul and the pressure heaped on the players and Diego Alonso afterwards, this team instead went for the kill.
Hurtado was fouled in the box by a Sporting KC player and Nico Sanchez stepped up and drove his penalty home. Sanchez had a penalty saved earlier this season, so it appeared that he was taking no chances and slammed the ball home in emphatic fashion. 71 minutes into the match and it was starting to get a little silly at this point.
Not merely content to go for a 4-0 win, Monterrey kept playing and got a final goal in the 77th minute as Hurtado had an, um, “pass” connect with Pabón in the box and the captain finished off the performance with his second goal of the night.
This was about as dominant a performance has Monterrey had rolled out all season. Not since the opening match in the Clausura against Pachuca had this team looked able to score at will while keeping a clean sheet. Be it the pressure of the Tigres big win over Santos Laguna the previous night or the pressure on Diego Alonso to get this team to perform at the level of expectations, whatever it was worked.
Can Rayados carry this momentum into the weekend against Toluca and on towards the next CCL match at Kansas City? Or can this be a watershed moment for this season, where perhaps this team can get over the hump and win at least one, if not two, titles.