Top 50 MLS Cup Moments: #14 A Different Breed
|Kansas City 1||Chicago 0|
|Did You Know?|
|Miklos Molnar played for 12 club teams in his career but his highlights came on the international stage: the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, the 1998 World Cup in France and the 2000 European championships in the Netherlands and Belgium.|
#14. A Different Breed (2000)
“He was a different breed of cat.”
That’s how former Kansas City manager Bob Gansler describes Danish forward Miklos Molnar during his lone season in MLS.
“Danish Dynamite,” as he was called that year, was one of the most instrumental pieces on a team that claimed the league and cup double after finishing in last place in 1999.
“Miklos was a true finisher,” says ex-KC defender and current club manager Peter Vermes. “He was the guy who could be running one way, the ball would hit off the back of his head and go in the net. That’s the kind of goal scorer he was.”
A former teammate of then KC winger Chris Henderson’s in Germany, Molnar arrived with very little fanfare that in 2000 and finished with a haul of 12 goals in just 17 appearances. Those 12 goals were spread across 11 matches during that regular season.
Despite the fact that Gansler often encouraged him to change positions on the field to get more opportunities at goal, the then 30-year-old would politely but determinately refuse.
“There was no convincing him,” Gansler says. He was happy with his one goal.
“He said all the time, ‘I’m very hungry until I get that one goal,’” recalls KC goalkeeper and 2000 league MVP Tony Meola. “He’s very literal and he used to say it all the time: ‘All I need is one goal. That’s what I’m getting paid for.’ And he scored more big goals than anyone I think who ever played in our league.”
The track record of clutch goals continued in those 2000 playoffs with another five tallies in seven matches, including MLS Cup. The Dane bungled home a deflected Chris Klein cross on a counterattack in the 11th minute for the only lead that KC would need at MLS Cup 2000 at RFK Stadium.
While the goal shouldn’t have come as a surprise — KC spent that entire 2000 season waiting for a Molnar goal and then shutting the game down – what happened in the postgame was.
“After we had our little celebration, Miklos pulled everyone together in the locker,” Meola recounts. “He said, ‘Guys, I want to tell you that I appreciate everything you’ve done. You lit the fire in my belly for soccer again. My dream here was to win the double and now I want to let you know, I’m going to retire.’”
Explains the man himself, “I actually knew before the final that it was my final game in my whole career. To end my soccer career and score the final goal was a big moment in my soccer life. It had a little luck, a little fighting. It was not a beautiful goal, but it went in. It was a great moment.”
It turns out Molnar already had his car packed back home in KC before MLS Cup. After saying goodbye to his friends upon the team's triumphant return home, he was off to trek the United States just days after winning the league title. He made it to both coasts, camped in a tent at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and especially relished his time in San Francisco.
“I played in seven different countries,” Molnar tells MLSsoccer.com. “I had played in the World Cup, in the Olympic games, in the European Championship. In my point of view, I more or less did all what I could do in soccer. I could have played three, four or five more years but I didn’t feel I would have done anything new. I wanted to try something new in my life. I wanted to experience new things.”
“Danish Dynamite” was only 30 years old and he was calling it quits after one of the best seasons by a forward in MLS that year. But that’s what made him a “different breed of cat.”
“He didn’t by and large enjoy playing soccer,” Gansler says. “He enjoyed scoring goals. The other things were just items that he had to endure. He didn’t like passing. He didn’t like heading. He was not going to spend hours in the video room studying his next opponent. Basically, he enjoyed scoring goals. Unfortunately he had to go through 90 minutes of torture to have that 15 seconds of joy.”
Gansler tells the story of watching Molnar in a hotel swimming pool from the window of his room during a road trip in 2000. The Dane was putting in lap after lap until finally Gansler felt compelled to go downstairs and stop him. It was gameday.
“I told him, ‘We got a game this afternoon. Did that slip your mind?’” Gansler says. “And he said, ‘No, I do this all the time and at home I bicycle also.’ … I hadn’t ever noticed any signs of fatigue.”
Although many at the club may not have realized it at the time, Molnar had a reason for building on his physical fitness.
“Training to him, fitness-wise, was almost like a joke,” Meola remembers of KC's practice sessions. “At night, he would go and swim for two hours and he would run for two-and-a-half to three hours. That whole year of playing in Kansas City, he was actually getting ready for his retirement, which was triathlons.”
In 2004, a few years after retiring, Molnar completed the Copenhagen marathon in less than three hours and finished the Iron Man competition in Austria less than 10 hours. That was sandwiched between trekking in the Himalayan mountains, spending long stretches of weeks at his house in Spain and enjoying his time with friends and family back in Denmark.
You can hear it in his voice. Molnar savors life and every moment it offers him.
“Sometimes when I look back [at 2000], that was my way to deal with it,” Molnar says. “When playing games and training, I was 100 percent there and really, really focused. But when practice was over I liked to do other things. I never really watched games on TV. I was not 24 hours on soccer. It was important to do other things.”