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Kansas City Wizards

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Kansas City Wizards

Sporting Kansas City
Full name Sporting Kansas City[1]
  • Sporting
  • Wizards
  • The Wiz
  • Swope Park Rangers (reserves)
Founded 1995 (as Kansas City Wiz)
Stadium Sporting Park
Kansas City, Kansas
Ground Capacity 18,467
Owner Sporting Club
Head Coach Peter Vermes
League Major League Soccer
2013 Eastern Conference: 1st
Overall: 2nd
Playoffs: Quarterfinals
Website Club home page
Home colors
Away colors
Third colors
Current season

Sporting Kansas City is an American professional soccer club based in Kansas City, Kansas. The club is a member of the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer. The club is one of the ten charter clubs of MLS, having competed in the league since its inception.

For the majority of its first 15 years of existence the team was known as the Kansas City Wizards. The team was renamed in November 2010, coinciding with its move to a new stadium, Sporting Park.[2] The club won both the MLS Cup and the MLS Supporters' Shield in 2000, and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2004 and 2012.


The early years: 1996–1999

The Kansas City MLS franchise was founded by Lamar Hunt, who was also the founder or co-founder of the American Football League, the Kansas City Chiefs, the United Soccer Association, and Major League Soccer. The Kansas City Wiz played their first game on April 13, 1996, defeating the Colorado Rapids at Arrowhead Stadium.[3] The Wiz players included Preki, Mo Johnston and Digital Takawira, and were coached by Ron Newman. The team finished 5th in the 1996 regular season with a 17–15 record, qualifying for the first ever MLS Playoffs. In the 1996 conference semi-finals, the Wiz beat the Dallas Burn in three games, winning the final game in a shootout, before losing the conference final to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Following the 1996 season, the Wiz changed names, becoming the "Wizards". For the 1997 MLS season, their record was 21–11; they won the Western Conference regular season championship. Preki was named 1997 MLS MVP.[4] In the first round of the playoffs, the Wizards lost to the last-seeded Colorado Rapids. The Wizards had losing records for the and 1999 seasons, finishing last in the Western Conference both years. The Wizards fired Ron Newman early during the 1999 season,[5] and replaced him with Bob Gansler. The Wizards finished the 1999 season with a record of 8–24, which put them in last place in the Western Conference once again.

Championship: 2000

In 2000, their first full season under Bob Gansler, the Wizards opened the season on a 12-game unbeaten streak. Goalkeeper Tony Meola recorded an MLS record shutout streak at 681 minutes and 16 shutouts, and won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and MLS MVP.[6] Peter Vermes was named 2000 MLS Defender of the Year. The Wizards finished the 2000 regular season 16–7–9, the best record in the league.

In the 2000 playoffs, the Wizards defeated the Colorado Rapids, 7 points to 1 in three games. In the conference final, the Wizards fell behind 4 points to 1 to the Los Angeles Galaxy, but Miklos Molnar scored a penalty kick in game three to send the series into a tiebreaker, where he scored again to send the Wizards to their first MLS Cup. At RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., the Wizards, with the league's best defense, faced the team with the league's best offense, the Chicago Fire. The Wizards took the lead on an 11th minute goal by Miklos Molnar. The Chicago Fire put 10 shots on goal, but Tony Meola and the defense held, and the Wizards claimed their first MLS Cup Championship. Tony Meola was named 2000 MLS Cup MVP.[7]

Post-Championship struggles: 2001–2002

After the loss of Preki to the Miami Fusion, the team struggled to defend their championship in 2001, making the playoffs as the 8th seed with a record of 11–13–3. In the first round, the Wizards' reign as champion ended with a 6 points to 3 loss to Preki and the Miami Fusion. Despite getting back Preki, the Wizards sat in last place in the Western Conference in 2002. They made the playoffs with a record of 9–10–9. The last two teams in the East, the MetroStars and D.C. United missed the playoffs, which propelled the Wizards into the playoffs. In the first round, the team would fall, 6 points to 3 to eventual champions, Los Angeles Galaxy.

More success: 2003–2004

The Wizards returned to the top half of the West in 2003 with a record of 11–10–9. In the first round of the playoffs, the Wizards defeated the Colorado Rapids in the aggregate goal series, 3–1. That set up a one-game showdown with the San Jose Earthquakes the winner would advance to the 2003 MLS Cup. The Wizards took the lead, but the Earthquakes battled back and forced golden goal in overtime by Landon Donovan in the 117th minute, which sent his team to the 2003 MLS Cup and the Wizards home.

The Wizards started out 2004 mediocre, before turning around in the summer. The Wizards finished the season on a six-game unbeaten streak to finish 14–9–9 for the Western Conference regular season championship. Goalkeeper Tony Meola went down with injury and backup Bo Oshoniyi filled as a replacement.[8]

In the first round of the 2004 playoffs, the Wizards lost the first game to San Jose Earthquakes, 2–0. In the second game, however, the Wizards scored 2 goals before Jack Jewsbury scored in stoppage time to move KC onto the conference final. In the conference final, the Wizards held off the Los Angeles Galaxy to reach their second MLS Cup. In the 2004 MLS Cup final, the Wizards went up against D.C. United at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. The Wizards Jose Burciaga scored in the 6th minute, but D.C. United replied with three goals in the first half. KC was given a lifeline in the 58th minute as Josh Wolff scored the first penalty kick in MLS Cup history,[9] but KC lost the 2004 MLS Cup final 3-2.

Move to the East: 2005–2010

Following MLS expansion, the Wizards moved to the Eastern Conference in 2005. By the end of the 2005 season, despite the solid play of 2005 MLS Defender of the Year Jimmy Conrad, the Wizards themselves outside the playoffs with a record of 11–9–12. After the season, the team's veteran leader, Preki announced his retirement.

In the 2006 season, the Wizards just missed out on a playoff berth with a loss to the New York Red Bulls on the final day of the regular season, finishing with a 10–14–8 record. Lamar Hunt sold the club in August 2006 to OnGoal, LLC, a six-man ownership group led by Cerner Corporation co-founders Neal Patterson and Cliff Illig, a local group committed to keeping the Wizards in Kansas City.

The club dedicated its 2007 season to Lamar Hunt, who had died in December 2006. A good start earned them four wins in the first seven weeks of the season. The club picked up goalkeeper Kevin Hartman from Los Angeles Galaxy to help with that position. Despite winning just four games after the All-Star break, Kansas City managed to finish fifth in the East at 11–12–7 and qualify for the playoffs. The club shifted over to the West as a result of a playoff format change, the Wizards played against Chivas USA. With the Wizards Davy Arnaud's goal in the first game to win the series, the defense and Kevin Hartman did the rest and kept Chivas USA off the scoreboard. In the conference final, the Wizards came up short to the Houston Dynamo, 2–0.

In 2008, the Wizards played their home games at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas, and ended a four-year playoff drought by posting an 11–10–9 record, good enough for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Facing the Columbus Crew, the Wizards earned a 1–1 tie in Game 1 of the first round series, but with a 2–0 loss in Game 2 the Wizards lost the aggregate series 3–1.

In the 2009 season, the Wizards remained at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, but struggled to score. They went 426 minutes without scoring a goal,[10] the longest streak of the season. In August 2009, with the team holding a 5-7-6 record, KC fired Head Coach Curt Onalfo,[11] and named General Manager Peter Vermes the Head Coach. The Wizards finished with the worst home record in the league,[12] and at 8-13-9 were third to last in the league standings. Top players were Claudio López (8 goals & 7 assists) and Josh Wolff (11 goals) who sparked the Wizards offense.

In 2010, the Wizards finished third in the Eastern Conference and narrowly missed qualifying for the playoffs.

Rebranding: 2011–present

With the rebranding (of Wizards to Sporting) the team follows a recent tradition in MLS of adopting European-style names. Other teams with such names include Toronto FC, D.C. United and Real Salt Lake. The "Sporting" moniker implies that the soccer club will be part of a larger sports umbrella, similar to clubs in Europe. At the rebrand announcement, the team's president announced plans to add a rugby club and lacrosse club.[13] The re-branding was met with both excitement and disdain. With the opening of the new Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, Sporting Kansas City became the first major-league team to have played in stadiums on both sides of the state line in Kansas City while Kansas City became the only U.S. metropolitan area besides New York City to have major professional sports teams playing in different states.

Because Sporting Park was not ready for the beginning of the 2011 season, Sporting Kansas City played its first ten games on the road, only winning one game. Once the road trip was over, the team found more success and ended the regular season with the most points of any Eastern Conference team. After defeating the Colorado Rapids on a 4–0 aggregate in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Sporting lost to the Houston Dynamo 2–0 in the Eastern Conference finals.

KC began the 2012 season with seven consecutive wins, in the process setting an MLS record for 335 minutes without allowing a shot on goal.[14] The team finished the regular season first in the East with an 18-7-9 record. KC was led by Graham Zusi, who delivered a league leading 15 assists and was named finalist for 2012 MLS MVP,[15] Jimmy Nielsen, who notched a league leading 15 shutouts and was named 2012 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, and Matt Besler, who was named MLS Defender of the Year. KC lost to the Houston Dynamo in the conference semifinals. KC won the 2012 U.S. Open Cup, defeating the Seattle Sounders in the finals, to qualify for the 2013–14 CONCACAF Champions League.

In 2013, Kansas City took advantage of MLS's newly created retention funds to renew contracts with U.S. national team players Graham Zusi and Matt Besler.[16]

Colors and badge

Sporting Kansas City's official colors are "sporting blue" and "dark indigo" with "lead" as a tertiary color. The primary logo is composed of a teardrop-shaped shield containing a stylized representation of the Kansas-Missouri state line with "sporting blue" stripes on the "Kansas" side and an interlocking "SC" on the "Missouri" side. The shield's contour alludes to the team's former logo while under the "Kansas City Wizards" appellation. The stateline represents Sporting's fanbase in both of the Kansas and Missouri metropolitan areas called "Kansas City". The eleven individual lines comprising the stateline are a nod to the number of players a team places on the field during a soccer match. The "SC" (for Sporting Club) is inspired by Asclepius' rod representing health and fitness, a Greek statue called the Winged Victory of Samothrace – alluding to strength and movement, and to the Spanish architecture of Kansas City's Country Club Plaza.[17] Beginning in 2013, Ivy Funds became the club's first kit sponsor,[18] and a new home jersey design was unveiled, as well as an alternate argyle design.


MLS Stadiums:

Other Stadiums Used:

From 1996 to 2007, the Wizards played home games in Arrowhead Stadium, the American football stadium mainly used by the Kansas City Chiefs. Wizards management kept the west end of Arrowhead tarped off for the first 10 years of play, limiting seating near the field. In 2006, fans could sit all the way around the field, but in 2007 seating was only available along the sidelines. After the 2007 final season at Arrowhead, the Wizards continued to use the stadium for select large events. In 2008, the club played a regular season home game against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the stadium to accommodate the large crowd expected for David Beckham's Galaxy debut. Again in 2010, the Wizards played a friendly here against English club Manchester United, winning 2–1.

The Wizards entered an agreement with the Kansas City T-Bones to use their home stadium, CommunityAmerica Ballpark, during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. The deal was later extended to include 2010. The stadium, located across the state line in Kansas City, Kansas, built a new bleacher section financed by the Wizards to increase its capacity to 10,385. This move made the Wizards the third MLS team to share their home ground with a baseball team. D.C. United had been sharing RFK Stadium with Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals in Washington, D.C., before the latter's move into Nationals Park. The San Jose Earthquakes used Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, home of the Oakland A's (and Oakland Raiders), for certain games during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

The Wizards originally planned to return to Kansas City, Missouri, and build a new stadium there – tentatively called Trails Stadium – as part of a major mixed-use development. The team had received all required approvals and was awaiting site demolition; however, the 2008–09 financial crisis ultimately led to the scrapping of the Trails Stadium project. The developer then sought a new site, quickly settling on a similar development in Kansas City, Kansas, known as Village West, near CommunityAmerica Ballpark and Kansas Speedway.

In September 2009, the developer asked Wyandotte County and Kansas state officials for permission to use revenues from existing tax increment financing in the Village West area to help finance the soccer complex.[19] On December 17, Wizards president Robb Heineman provided an update on the stadium situation published on team official website and blog,[20][21] basically identifying the Kansas City, Kansas, location as final, pending the signature of the final agreements. On December 21, construction machinery was already on the Legends site waiting to break ground.[22][23] On January 19, 2010, Wyandotte County approved the bonds to help finance the stadium,[24] and on January 20 the groundbreaking ceremony was made, with Wizards CEO Robb Heineman using heavy machinery to move dirt on the construction site.[25]

Club culture


The main supporters group of Sporting Kansas City cheers in the Member's Stand on the North side of Sporting Park and is known as "The Cauldron".[26] The name is derived from the large metal pots used for boiling potions, due to the team's former name Wizards. Since the rebranding in 2010, Sporting have seen dramatic growth in their fan section, with several fan groups adding their voice to The Cauldron culture and atmosphere.[26] Current groups in the north stands are the La Barra KC, Brookside Elite, Mass Street Mob, King City Yardbirds, Omaha Boys, Northland Noise, Ladies of SKC and K.C. Futbol Misfits. The south stand hosts The Wedge and Ad Astra KC while American Outlaws - Kansas City Chapter are also present in the stands.[26]


Matches are broadcast in high definition on KSMO-TV (except for nationally broadcast matches). The play-by-play announcer is former BBC Radio commentator Callum Williams who began broadcasting with the 2011 season. Former Wizard/Sporting Kansas City player Sasha Victorine provided color commentary in the beginning of 2011 but stepped down to spend more time with family. Color commentary is currently being covered by Jake Yadrich.

There is currently no regular local radio coverage in English except for occasional broadcasts on WHB 810AM when television broadcasts of MLS games on KSMO-TV is not available. Spanish broadcasting can be found on KDTD 1340AM.

Players and staff

Current roster

No. Position Player Nation

Notable former players

This list of former players includes those who received international caps while playing for the team, made significant contributions to the team in terms of appearances or goals while playing for the team, or who made significant contributions to the sport either before they played for the team, or after they left. It is clearly not yet complete and all inclusive, and additions and refinements will continue to be made over time.

Head coaches

General managers

  • Tim Latta (1996)
  • Doug Newman (1997–1999)
  • Curt Johnson (1999–2006)
  • Peter Vermes (2006—present) Technical Director and Head Coach
  • Greg Cotton (2006—present) Director of Business Operations


  • Robb Heineman (2006—present) [1]


  • MLS Supporters' Shield



Season MLS Reg. Season MLS Cup Playoffs U.S. Open Cup CONCACAF
Champions' Cup /
Champions League
1996 3rd, West (12-15) Won Conference Semifinals (Dallas Burn 2-1)
Lost Conference Final (Los Angeles Galaxy 0-2)
Quarterfinals Did not qualify
1997 1st, West (14-11) Lost Conference Semifinals [Colorado Rapids 0-2) Round of 16 Did not qualify
1998 6th, West (12-20) Did not qualify Round of 16 Did not qualify
1999 6th, West (8-24) Did not qualify Did not qualify Did not qualify
2000 1st, West* (16-7-9) Won Quarterfinals (Colorado Rapids 2-1)
Won Semifinals (Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1)
Won MLS Cup (Chicago Fire 1-0)
Round of 32 Did not qualify
2001 3rd, West (11-13-3) Lost Quarterfinals (Miami Fusion 1-2) Round of 16 Not held
2002 5th, West (9-10-9) Lost Quarterfinals (Los Angeles Galaxy 1-2) Semifinals Semifinals
2003 2nd, West (11-10-9) Won Conference Semifinals (Colorado Rapids 3-1)
Lost Conference Final (San Jose Earthquakes 3-2)
Round of 16 Did not qualify
2004 1st, West (14-9-7) Won Conference Semifinals (San Jose 3-2)
Won Conference Final (Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0)
Lost MLS Cup (D.C. United 2-3)
Champions Did not qualify
2005 5th, East (11-9-12) Did not qualify Quarterfinals Quarterfinals
2006 5th, East (10-14-8) Did not qualify Round of 16 Did not qualify
2007 5th, East (11-12-7) Won Conference Semifinals (Chivas USA 1-0)
Lost Conference Final (Houston Dynamo 0-2)
Did not qualify Did not qualify
2008 4th, East (11-10-9) Lost Conference Semifinals (Columbus Crew 1-2) Quarterfinals Did not qualify
2009 6th, East (8-13-9) Did not qualify Quarterfinals Did not qualify
2010 3rd, East (11-13-6) Did not qualify Did not qualify Did not qualify
2011 1st, East (13-9-12) Won Conference Semifinals (Colorado Rapids 4-0)
Lost Conference Final (Houston Dynamo 0-2)
Quarterfinals Did not qualify
2012 1st, East (18-7-9) Lost Conference Semifinals (Houston Dynamo 1-2) Champions Did not qualify
2013 2nd, East (17-10-7) TBD Round of 16 TBD

International tournaments

Group Stage v. Peru Sporting Cristal – 1:2
Group Stage v. Mexico Santos Laguna – 2:4
Group Stage v. Ecuador Barcelona – 3:2
Group Stage v. Peru Sporting Cristal – 1:2
Group Stage v. Ecuador Barcelona – 1:1
Group Stage v. Mexico Santos Laguna – 0:1
First Round v. Trinidad and Tobago W Connection – 1:0, 2:0 (Wizards win 3:0 on aggregate)
Quarterfinal v. Mexico Santos Laguna – 1:2, 2:0 (Wizards win 3:2 on aggregate)
Semi-Finals v. Mexico Monarcas Morelia – 1:6, 1:1 (Morelia advances 7:2 on aggregate)
First Round v. Costa Rica Deportivo Saprissa – 0:0, 1:2 (Saprissa advances 2:1 on aggregate after added extra time)
Group Stage v. Mexico Atlas – 0:0
Group Stage v. United States New England Revolution – 1:1
Group Stage v. Mexico Santos Laguna – 1:3
  • 2013–14 CONCACAF Champions League
Tournament in progress
Group Stage v. Nicaragua Real Estelí - 2:0, 1:1
Group Stage v. Honduras Olimpia - 2:0, 0:0
Quarterfinals v. Mexico Cruz Azul

Team records

MLS regular season only[27]

  • All-Time regular season record: 201–200–100 (Through May 2, 2012)

Average attendance

Season Reg. Season Playoffs[28]
1996 12,878 7,754
1997 9,058 10,174
1998 8,073 DNQ
1999 8,183 DNQ
2000 9,112 8,243
2001 10,954 5,803
2002 12,255 9,484
2003 15,573 10,712
2004 14,816 11,077
2005 9,691 DNQ
2006 11,083 DNQ
2007 11,586 12,442
2008 10,686 10,385
2009 10,053 DNQ
2010 10,287 DNQ
2011 17,810 19,702
2012 19,364 20,894
2013 19,709 TBD


  • The 73% jump in attendance between 2010 and 2011 coincides with the team's move from CommunityAmerica Ballpark (capacity 10,400) to their new soccer-specific stadium Sporting Park (capacity 18,500).

Notable friendlies


External links

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