Kansas City is in the driver's seat after defeating Cruz Azul 1-0 at Sporting Park thanks to Kevin Ellis' first senior goal.
The Americans went ahead in the 17th minute, with Sporting academy product Kevin Ellis scoring his first professional goal. The right back switched over to the the left flank and found himself all alone for Benny Feilhaber to pick out with a fine pass, and the 22-year-old put his hometown side ahead with a composed finish.
Sporting denied Cruz Azul in heroic fashion twice in the early second half. Mariano Pavone beat the offside trap, rounded Sporting keeper Eric Kronberg and applied the finish only to have Ike Opara intervene in the goalmouth. On the resulting corner kick, Feilhaber got away with using his arm to block a headball before Seth Sinovic came up with an acrobatic clearance on the goal line.
Sporting nearly doubled its lead when Graham Zusi hit the woodwork, but Peter Vemes will be please to head to Mexico with the advantage.
Cruz Azul will host the second leg in Mexico City on March 19.