In June 2010, heralded ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez introduced the nation to a bustling soccer hotbed that was poised for takeoff.
Providing live pre-game and in-game hits from the jam-packed Kansas City Power & Light District during U.S. Men's National Team matches in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Gomez was the city's de facto watch party correspondent. Joined by thousands of fans in the heart of downtown, he played a leading role highlighting Kansas City's passion for soccer in what became a transformative summer for soccer in the Midwest.
Gomez, best known for his coverage of Major League Baseball on ESPN, passed away Sunday at the age of 58. The award-winning reporter covered more than 25 World Series and 22 All-Star Games throughout his career.
Although Gomez spent less time covering soccer, his genuine love of sports journalism was on display 11 years ago in Kansas City. Assigned to a Royals baseball story at the time, Gomez decided to extend his stay in the city after noticing the palpable excitement surrounding the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. His reporting at the Power & Light District helped magnify the some of the biggest and most electric watch parties in the country.
In the fateful months that followed, the Kansas City Wizards defeated Manchester United at Arrowhead Stadium before a crowd of 52,424, rebranded to Sporting Kansas City and moved into world-class Children's Mercy Park. Gomez's memory within the Sporting KC organization is thusly remembered with remarkable fondness, as his desire to cast the international spotlight on Kansas City was a catalyst for Sporting's meteoric rise.