Sporting Kansas City
|Full name||Sporting Kansas City |
|Nickname(s)||Sporting, Sporting KC, Wizards, The Wiz, SKC
Swope Park Rangers (reserves)
|Founded||1995 (as Kansas City Wiz)|
Kansas City, Kansas
|Head Coach||Peter Vermes|
|League||Major League Soccer|
|2013||Eastern Conference: 1st
|Website||Club home page|
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. 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 
Lamar Hunt, who was founder or co-founder of the American Football League, the Kansas City Chiefs, the United Soccer Association, and Major League Soccer, also founded the team. The Kansas City Wiz played their first game on April 13, 1996, defeating the Colorado Rapids at Arrowhead Stadium. The Wiz players included Preki, Mo Johnston and Digital Takawira, and were coached by Ron Newman. The team finished 5th with a 17–15 record, qualifying for the first ever MLS Playoffs. For their conference semi-finals, the Wiz beat the Dallas Burn in three games, winning the final game in a shootout. They lost the conference final to Los Angeles Galaxy.
Following the 1996 season, the Wiz changed names, becoming the "Wizards". For the 1997 Major League Soccer season, their record was 21–11; they won the Western Conference regular season championship. Preki was named MLS MVP. In the first round of the playoffs, the Wizards lost to the last-seeded Colorado Rapids.
The Wizards had losing records for the 1998 and 1999 seasons, ending up last place in the Western Conference both years. The Wizards fired Ron Newman in the summer and replaced him with Bob Gansler. The Wizards would finish the 1999 season with a disastrous 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 would record the longest shutout streak in MLS history at 681 minutes. By the end of the season, the Wizards held a record of 16–7–9, the best in the league. In the playoffs, the Wizards defeated the Colorado Rapids, 7 points to 1 in three games. In the conference final, the Wizards would fall behind 4 points to 1 to the Los Angeles Galaxy and their season seemed to be coming to an end. Miklos Molnar scored a penalty kick early 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, tried to prove that defense wins championships by beating the team with the league's best offense, the Chicago Fire. The Wizards would lead early on an 11th minute goal by Miklos Molnar. The Chicago Fire would put together an onslaught of scoring opportunities, putting 10 shots on goal, including 3 in the final 10 minutes. But Tony Meola stopped every one of them and the defense barely held on to the lead as time ran out on the Chicago Fire. A year after not even making double-digits in wins, the Wizards amazingly turned it around and claimed their first MLS Cup Championship.
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 would return to the top half of the West in 2003 with a record of 11–10–9. In the first round, the Wizards would defeat 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 would twice take the lead, but twice, 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.
Looking to build on their momentum from the previous year, the Wizards would start out 2004 mediocre before turning around in the summer and contending for the conference championship. The Wizards lost only 2 games in September and finished the season on a 6 game unbeaten streak to finish 14–9–9, for the Western Conference regular season championship. The season was not without controversy, though, as goalkeeper Tony Meola, an American soccer goalkeeping legend that had been on the USA national team roster for three World Cups, went down with injury and backup Bo Oshoniyi would fill as a replacement. Once the playoffs started, Meola had healed, but Oshoniyi was still in goal. In the first round of the playoffs, the Wizards would lose the first game to defending champions San Jose Earthquakes, 2–0, putting in a seemingly impossible situation to score 3 goals and concede none in game 2 of aggregate goal series. However, amazingly, the Wizards did just that by scoring 2 goals in the first half, while little known Jack Jewsbury scored the deciding goal in second half stoppage time to move KC onto the conference final for the second year in a row. In that game, the Wizards would easily hold off the Los Angeles Galaxy on two Davy Arnaud goals to send the Wizards to their second MLS Cup. The Wizards provided the stadium area championship feeling as they went up against D.C. United at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California as Bo Oshoniyi got the starting in goal. The Wizards would get off to a great start as Jose Burciaga caught United unprepared as he scored a long range goal in the 6th minute. However, DC United's Alecko Eskandarian scored 2 goals for his squad in the 19th and 23rd minutes respectively. Things would go from bad to worse in the 26th minute for the Wizards as Alex Zotinca committed an own goal. KC was given a lifeline in the 58th minute as DC's Dema Kovalenko was expelled from the match for a handball in the penalty area and Josh Wolff scored the first penalty kick conversion in MLS Cup history. The Wizards hoped that that would propel them to more goals as they put 10 shots on goal. However it would not be enough as their season ended with a disappointing 3–2 loss at the hands of DC United.
Move to the East: 2005–2010 
Following expansion, the Wizards moved to the Eastern Conference in 2005. The team won just two of its first seven games. After going through a summer filled with mostly ties and losses, a four game winning streak at the end of August helped get them back in the playoff race. In the end, it was not enough as the Wizards did not win another game to find themselves on the outside of the playoffs looking in with a record of 11–9–12. After the season, the team's veteran leader, Preki announced his retirement.
Following a 2006 season in which they missed the playoffs, 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. Despite the good news off the field, and winning four out of five games to start the season, the Wizards just missed out on a playoff berth with a loss to the New York Red Bulls on the final day, finishing with a 10–14–8 record.
After Hunt died, the club dedicated the 2007 season to him. A good start earned them four wins in the first seven weeks of the season. The club also picked up goalkeeper Kevin Hartman from Los Angeles Galaxy as a move to help the club with that position. But after a good start to the season, the Wizards tapered off near the end of the season, winning just four games after the All-Star break and finished fifth in the East at 11–12–7. 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 as the defense and Kevin Hartman did the rest and kept Chivas USA off the scoreboard. In the conference final the Wizards would come up short to the Houston Dynamo, 2–0.
The Wizards played their home games at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas in 2008, and ended a four-year playoff drought by posting an 11–10–9 record, which was good enough for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Facing the Columbus Crew who captured the MLS Supporter's Shield for the best record in MLS, the Wizards had a strong showing, earning a 1–1 tie in Game 1 of the first round series. However, 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 offensively. They went 427 minutes without scoring a goal (the longest streak of offensive impotence of the season). The most telling stat of all though for the Wizards was their record at home, which was the worst in the league. Plus, they were 0–13–3 when giving up the first goal. By the end of season, they 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, a rebuilding year, the Wizards finished third in the Eastern Conference and narrowly missed qualifying for the playoffs.
Rebranding: 2011–present 
With the rebranding, 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, in similarity to clubs in Europe. At the rebrand announcement, the team's president announced plans to add a rugby club and lacrosse club. The re-branding was met with both excitement and disdain. The name "Wizards" is still used as an informal nickname for the club. 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.
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 by a score of 2–0 in the Eastern Conference finals. At the beginning of the 2012 season Sporting started a perfect 7–0–0, and with the new addition of players such as Bobby Convey the team has remained on top of the league, setting an MLS record for most minutes played without allowing a shot on goal.
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. Beginning in 2013, Ivy Funds will become the club's first kit sponsor.
- Arrowhead Stadium; Kansas City, Missouri (1996–2007)
- Blue Valley Sports Complex; Overland Park, Kansas (2001, 2004, 2006, 2011) 6 games in US Open Cup
- Julian Field; Parkville, Missouri (2005) 2 games in US Open Cup
- CommunityAmerica Ballpark; Kansas City, Kansas (2008–2010)
- Hermann Stadium; St. Louis, Missouri (2009) 1 game in North American SuperLiga
- Stanley H. Durwood Stadium; Kansas City, Missouri (2010) 1 game in US Open Cup
- Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kansas (2011–present)
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. On December 17, Wizards president Robb Heineman provided an update on the stadium situation published on team official website and blog, 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. On January 19, 2010, Wyandotte County approved the bonds to help finance the stadium, and on January 20 the groundbreaking ceremony was made, with Wizards CEO Robb Heineman using heavy machinery to move dirt on the construction site.
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". The name is derived from the large metal pots used for boiling potions, due to the teams 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. Current groups are the Fountain City Ultras, La Barra KC, King City Yardbirds, Mass Street Mob, Brookside Elite, Omaha Boys, Northland Noise, Ladies of SKC and K.C. Futbol Misfits.
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 
Out on loan 
|2||Defender||Yann Songo'o (on reserve loan to Orlando City)||Cameroon|
|14||Forward||Dom Dwyer (GA, on reserve loan to Orlando City)||England|
|21||Goalkeeper||Jon Kempin (HGP, on reserve loan to Orlando City)||United States|
|25||Midfielder||Christian Duke (on reserve loan to Orlando City)||United States|
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.
- See also All-time Sporting Kansas City roster
Head coaches 
- Ron Newman (1996–99)
- Ken Fogarty (1999), (Interim)
- Bob Gansler (April 1999–July 6)
- Brian Bliss (June 2006–Dec 6), (Interim)
- Curt Onalfo (Nov 2006–Aug 9)
- Peter Vermes (Aug 2009–Nov 9), (Interim)
- Peter Vermes (Nov 2009–present)
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
- MLS Western Conference
- Winners (Regular Season) (3): 1997, 2000, 2004
- Winners (Playoff) (1): 2004
- MLS Eastern Conference
- Winners (Regular Season) (2): 2011, 2012
|Year||MLS Reg. Season||MLS Cup Playoffs||Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup||CONCACAF
Champions' Cup/Champions League
|1996||3rd, West (12-15)||Semi-Finals||Quarter-Finals||Did not qualify|
|1997||1st, West (14-11)||Quarter-Finals||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)||Champions||Round of 32||Did not qualify|
|2001||3rd, West (11-13-3)||Quarter-Finals||Round of 16||Not held|
|2002||5th, West (9-10-9)||Quarter-Finals||Semi-Finals||Semi-Finals|
|2003||2nd, West (11-10-9)||Semi-Finals||Round of 16||Did not qualify|
|2004||1st, West (14-9-7)||Runners-up||Champions||Did not qualify|
|2005||5th, East (11-9-12)||Did not qualify||Quarter-Finals||Quarter-Finals|
|2006||5th, East (10-14-8)||Did not qualify||Round of 16||Did not qualify|
|2007||5th, East (11-12-7)||Semi-Finals**||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2008||4th, East (11-10-9)||Quarter-Finals||Quarter-Finals||Did not qualify|
|2009||6th, East (8-13-9)||Did not qualify||Quarter-Finals||Did not qualify|
|2010||3rd, East (11-13-6)||Did not qualify||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2011||1st, East (13-9-12)||Semi-Finals||Quarter-Finals||Did not qualify|
|2012||1st, East (18-7-9)||Quarter-Finals||Champions||Did not qualify|
|2013||TBD||TBD||Qualified for third round||Qualified for Group Stage (13–14)|
International tournaments 
Team records 
MLS regular season only
- All-Time regular season record: 201–200–100 (Through May 2, 2012)
Average attendance 
As of June 19, 2012:
Notable friendlies 
|July 25, 2010||Kansas City Wizards||2–1||Manchester United||Kansas City, Missouri|
Kamara 42' 43'
Berbatov 41' (pen.)
|Stadium: Arrowhead Stadium
Referee: Terry Vaughn
|July 20, 2011||Sporting Kansas City||0–0||Newcastle United||Kansas City, Kansas|
|19:30 CDT||Espinoza 31'
|Report||Tiote 38'||Stadium: Livestrong Sporting Park
|October 12, 2011||Sporting Kansas City||2–2||C.D. Guadalajara||Kansas City, Kansas|
|19:30 CDT||Saad 75'
|Report||Fabian 20' (pen.)
|Stadium: Livestrong Sporting Park
|July 24, 2012||Sporting Kansas City||0-3||Montpellier HSC||Kansas City, Kansas|
|19:30 CDT||Report||Charbonnier 39'
Herrera 72', 92+'
|Stadium: Livestrong Sporting Park
|August 1, 2012||Sporting Kansas City||1–1||Stoke City F.C.||Kansas City, Kansas|
|19:30 CDT||Thomas 88'
|Report||Tonge 84' (pen.)||Stadium: Livestrong Sporting Park
- "Explore The New Brand at Sporting Kansas City Website". Insightkc.com. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
- POSTED: 4:20 pm CST November 17, 2010 (November 17, 2010). "Kansas City Wizards Change Name To Sporting Kansas City". Kmbc.com. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
- "Sporting Kansas City: Explore Our Brand". Insightkc.com. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
- "Sporting KC introduces Ivy Funds as club's first-ever jersey sponsor". Mailings.ivyfunds.com. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
- Kansas adjusts offer aimed at spurring Cerner, Wizards development near speedway, The Kansas City Star, December 8, 2009.
- Heineman provides stadium update, KC Wizards Official Website.
- Hillcrest Road – RH Stadium Update, OnGoal CEO/Wizards President Robb Heineman gives an update on the progress of the stadium project.
- Hillcrest Road – Yellow Machines on Site, Equipment from Clarkson Construction showed up at the future site of the stadium in KCK.
- Work starts on Kansas City Wizards stadium, Kansas City Business Journal – by Rob Roberts.
- Stadium Approval News, KC Wizards Official Website.
- Stadium Ground Breaking, Wizards Official Blog.
- "Sporting Kansas City Supporters". Sporting Kansas City Official Website.
- "All-Time Records Sporting Kansas City". Major League Soccer. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
- "Club Attendance Report". Sportingkc.com. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
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