Action from the 1-1 CONCACAF Champions League draw between Sporting Kansas City and visiting Real Esteli at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo: Jamila St. Ann)
KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Real Esteli and host Sporting Kansas City shared the points in a 1-1 draw at Sporting Park on Wednesday in a Group 2 match in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Somewhat against the run of play, the visitors jumped in front, 1-0, in the 53rd minute. Second-half substitute Samuel Wilson delivered Real Esteli’s first corner kick onto the head of Rudel Calero, who beat Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Eric Kronberg from seven meters.
It was Calero’s second career CCL goal, snapping the Nicaraguan side’s scoreless streak in the competition at 360 minutes.
Two minutes later, Sporting KC nearly equalized on its own set piece as CJ Sapong had an attempt off a Graham Zusi corner, but Real Esteli goalkeeper Justo Lorente did well to parry the ball away.
The home side equalized in the 78th minute on Jacob Peterson’s first CONCACAF Champions League goal. Four minutes after stepping onto the field for Soony Saad, the 27-year-old midfielder placed Zusi’s short corner through Lorente’s legs at the near post.
Second-half substitute Dom Dwyer had a chance to put Sporting ahead late in the game, but his free kick went wide of the net.
In second-half stoppage time, Benny Feilhaber, Ike Opara and Peterson each had solid scoring opportunities for Kansas City, only to see their shots either go wide or be saved by the excellent Lorente.
Sporting Kansas City enjoyed much of the first-half possession and looked more dangerous in front of goal. Lorente, however, was on top of his game.
Three minutes after knocking away a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box, he dived to his right to save a Saad shot.
In the 23rd minute, Esteli had its only true chance of the half, when Wilber Sanchez was played behind the KC defense, but Josh Gardner did well to track back to thwart any attempt on goal.
Just before halftime, Zusi had an open shot that was blocked by the defense, one of several throughout the match by Real Esteli, which picked up its first point of the Group Stage.
Despite the draw, Esteli was eliminated from contention with a game to play and will head to Tegucigalpa to face Olimpia on September 24.
Sporting Kansas City, which leads Group 2 with seven points from three matches, will host Olimpia on the final day of the Group Stage on October 23.
Only the winner of Group 2 advances to the knockout stage.
NOTES: Nine of Real Esteli’s 11 all-time CCL games have been decided by one goal or less.