Kansas City Wizards 1999
1999 Club by Club
The 1999 season was one to forget for Kansas City fans, as the team ranked 11th out of 12 in the standings and went on a MLS-record 16 game losing spree on the road and losing 24 of their 32 league games. This less than ideal season saw head coach Ron Newman lose his job and former US National Team manager Bob Gansler take the helm and start to rebuild the Wizards roster.
Key additions to the side saw US national team defender Alexi Lalas join the ranks, and even though he added four goals his influence could not spur the Wizards into a successful season. Stalwarts from previous campaigns, Preki and Mo Johnston, again performed to a high level but just as the ‘98 season had proved the Wizards woes on road games would prove to be their downfall.
The emergence of young Wizards midfielder Chris Klein was a major plus point for the season, as he became the fourth Wizards player ever to take home MLS Player of the Week honors, for his performance from July 19-25. In the two games Klein played that week, versus the Tampa Bay Mutiny on Thursday and at the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday, he entered both as a substitute. Klein came into the game in the 46th minute versus the Mutiny, when the game was tied at 1-1, and instantly made an impression. His pass in the 58th minute set up Preki's goal, giving Kansas City a 2-1 lead. Tampa Bay countered nine minutes later to tie the score. In the 78th minute, Klein put the Wizards ahead again, as he hit a perfectly placed shot past Scott Garlick and into the lower-left corner of the net from eight yards out. Tampa Bay, however, tied the game at 3-3, with seven minutes left on the clock.
The game seemed destined for a shootout until the improbable heroics from the St. Louis native. After Wizards defender Scott Vermillion slide-tackled the ball away from a Mutiny player, Klein picked up the ball in the middle of the field, took four touches and unleashed a shot from 25 yards out. The game-winner bent around a Mutiny defender, past Garlick and into the net with only 46 seconds remaining on the clock, giving Kansas City a three-point victory.
One other plus point was the 6-0 hammering of the NY/NJ MetroStars on Jun. 20, in which the Wizards broke many records and rekindled their deadly attacking prowess seen in previous seasons. The Wizards eight assists in a half tied a team and league record, as did 10 assists in one game. The 6-0 home victory at the time set the MLS record for most lopsided home victory and largest shutout margin ever, it was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing season.