The inaugural match of the Leagues Cup belonged to the Liga MX contender, as Cruz Azul cruised to a 2-0 win over a reserve-heavy Chicago Fire side at SeatGeek Stadium on Tuesday night.
Though the Fire could rarely break into the attack in the first half, they held their own against the Liga MX giants until the eve of halftime. That's when Mexican international Roberto Alvarado conjured up a flash of improvisational brilliance after a long throw into the Fire penalty box, scooping the ball over Chicago Homegrown Andre Reynolds II and flicking a nimble side volley past goalkeeper Richard Sanchez.
With Chicago coach Veljko Paunovic electing to rest several key starters ahead of a big Eastern Conference clash vs. D.C. United at the weekend, their Mexican guests dominated possession for most of the night. Elias Hernandez capped the victory with a 90th-minute strike on the counterattack, sending La Maquina on to the Leagues Cup semifinals.
Goals: Alvarado 43’, Hernández 90’
Cautions: Marcelo 60’, Aguilar 70’, Herbers 72’, Campos 82’, Lichnovsky 86’, Bronico 90+3’
Chicago Fire (4-2-3-1): Sanchez -- Campos, Marcelo, Lillard, Reynolds (Calvo, 58’) -- Gutjahr, Bronico -- Frankowski (Schweinsteiger, 58’), Herbers, Moreno (Sapong, 64’) -- Nikolic
Cruz Azul (4-3-3): Corona -- Madueña, Aguilar, Domínguez, Escobar -- Alvarado (Fernández, 70’), Lichnovsky, Yotún -- Rodríguez, Caraglio (Hernández, 87’), Pineda (Méndez, 64’)