Though remaining unbeaten in Champions League play, Kansas City dropped points at home to the winless Nicaraguan side.Sporting Kansas City may still be unbeaten in CONCACAF Champions League play, but Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Real Esteli opened the door for its Group 2 opposition.
Kansas City now sits atop the group with a 2-0-1 record, four points up on Olimpia, which has a game in hand. Only the winner of the three-team group advances.
Both teams scored off corner kicks as Jacob Peterson negated Rudel Calero's opener for the Nicaraguan visitors, who at 0-2-1 were eliminated with the draw.
"We had plenty of chances, should have scored more than one," Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes said after the match. "We had enough chances to put the game away and we didn't. Credit to the goalkeeper. He made a lot of great saves, and sometimes that's how it goes, but we had more than enough chances to win."
Real's approach to the match was evident from the start, as the visitors put heavy numbers behind the ball and simply attempted to absorb Kansas City's pressure.
Claudio Bieler had one dangerous shot denied by goalkeeper Justo Lorente and Graham Zusi put another golden opportunity over the bar as Sporting failed to break through before halftime. Early in the second half, Zusi slotted a shot inches past the post.
In the 54th minute, Kansas City was punished for its missed opportunities. Connecting with a Samuel Wilson corner kick, Calero leaped and nodded a shot past Eric Kronberg to give Real an unlikely lead.
Sporting finally broke through in the 78th minute. Four minutes after coming on, a wide-open Peterson met Zusi's low corner kick at the near post and prodded a shot past Lorente.
The result means Sporting KC could head into the group stage finale vs. CD Olimpia on Oct. 23rd needing to avoid a loss in order to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals. That is if CD Olimpia defeats Real Esteli next week.
"Bottom line is there's one more game in this competition and we need a result at home against the Honduran team to advance," said Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber. "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."
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