With the AT&T MLS All-Star Game now just hours away (9 pm ET on ESPN2, UniMas, TSN/RDS, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), we take a look back at the history of soccer in Kansas City since an MLS team first-known as the Wiz came on the scene in 1996.
From Arrowhead Stadium to Community America Ballpark to Sporting Park, the site of Wednesday’s match between the MLS All-Stars and AS Roma, there have been plenty of twists and turns. We sum up the best of them with the 7 Most Memorable Matches in Kansas City soccer history:
No. 7: KC Wiz 6, Columbus 4 (May 2, 1996)
Scottish legend Mo Johnston must have wondered what kind of team, and what kind of league, he had signed up for when his first game turned into a 10-goal frenzy.
It was a pretty normal 1-1 game at halftime as Mark Chung opened the scoring for the Wiz and Brian McBride answered for the Crew. But in the second half, the floodgates opened.
After Johnston put KC in the lead in the 47th minute, Columbus scored three goals in 17 minutes to take a 4-2 lead. The Wiz answered with three goals of their own in a span of 10 minutes, with Preki scoring on a penalty, Johnston getting his second and Mike Sorber tallying the go-ahead goal in the 77th minute. Preki put the game on ice in the 88th minute with his second goal of the night, sending 8,848 fans home happy and tired.
It is still the second-highest scoring game in MLS history.
No. 6: Kansas City Wizards 1, Chicago Fire 0, US Open Cup final (Sept. 22, 2004)
A golden goal by Igor Simutenkov lifted the Wizards to a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire which allowed Kansas City to add a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophy to the case alongside their 2000 MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield.
There’s no better indication of how far the game has come in KC than the attendance figure for that match, as only 8,819 witnessed it. Still, for KC’s many veteran players it was a thrill.
"I'm happy to get through that one,” said goalkeeper Tony Meola. “I've played this tournament so many times at all levels. It feels good to finally get it."
Highlights: USA vs. Costa Rica (2001)
No. 5: US 1, Costa Rica 0 (April 25, 2001)
As part of U.S. Soccer’s plan to find home venues where the USMNT would truly have a home-field advantage, Arrowhead Stadium played host to an important World Cup qualifier and a then-KC record soccer crowd of 37,319 showed up to cheer the USA on to victory.
Josh Wolff tallied the game’s lone goal, tapping in the rebound off a Clint Mathis header and Bruce Arena’s men were perfect through the first three games of the Hex. Looking back, this game helped pave the way for future home qualifiers played in front of patriotic fans from the Heartland.
No. 4: US 3, Guatemala 1 (Oct. 16, 2012)
It’s a distant memory now, with the US national team all but through to the 2014 World Cup, but last October, Sporting Park saw a US team that needed a result to advance to the CONCACAF Hexagonal.
And for a few brief moments after Carlos Ruiz gave Guatemala a 1-0 lead, there was some tension. However, with the sell-out KC crowd pushing them, the US scored three goals — one by Carlos Bocanegra and a pair by Clint Dempsey — before the first half was over and cruised to a 3-1 victory.
Jurgen Klinsmann's side could well be booking their ticket to Brazil on October 11, when Sporting Park hosts USA-Jamaica.
No. 3: Sporting KC 1, Seattle Sounders 1 (3-2 on Pks) - US Open Cup final (Aug. 8, 2012)
It was the night Sporting Park became home to champions as Sporting KC knocked off the three-time defending US Open Cup champion Seattle Sounders in front of a sell-out crowd.
It was a typical final, with both teams determined to play mistake-free in the back. But in the final moments of regulation time, each team got a goal, sending the match into extra time and, ultimately, penalties, where Sporting prevailed 3-2.
More than anything, the match was a testament to how far the game and the club’s support had come since the early days.
No. 2: KC 1, LA 0 - MLS Western Conference final (Oct. 6, 2000)
The most iconic image in Kansas City's history arguably came during the 2000 MLS Cup championship season.
Trailing 2-1 to the Galaxy heading into the home leg of their playoff series, the Wizards eked out a 1-0 win on a Miklos Molnar penalty in what we’ll call the first game of this odd doubleheader.
Back then MLS playoff rules called for a decisive “golden goal mini game” when a series was tied on points after the third and final game. it was Molnar again playing the hero as the Danish striker scored in the fifth minute of the extra session to send his team on to the MLS Cup final, where KC captured their first and only MLS Cup title.
The pass to Molnar? It came on a daring header from Johnston, who took a boot to the face for his efforts and finished with a bloody face. But it didn't stop him from joining the celebrations.
No. 1: KC 2, Manchester United 1 (July 25, 2010)
They still talk about this game today in Kansas City.
WATCH: KC-ManUtd Highlights
While soccer fans may have quickly moved on and replaced this match with memories of more meaningful triumphs, the 2-1 win by the MLS club over the English Premier League's Manchester United is still first to mind when it comes to the mainstream KC sports fan, 52,424 of which were at Arrowhead Stadium to set the record for the "largest crowd ever to witness a soccer match in Mid-America history."
But it had the making of a disastrous afternoon when Kansas City center back Jimmy Conrad was shown a straight red card just before halftime for a foul in the box on Dimitar Berbatov, who converted the spot kick to equalize and cancel out Davy Arnaud's 10th-minute strike for the locals.
However, just seconds after Berbatov's penalty, Kei Kamara scored on a powerful corner kick header to restore a lead that KC would cling to until the final whistle for their most famous victory.
And yet there are still those who question the value of international friendlies.