The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicked off this afternoon as Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1 in front of a sea of yellow at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


On Monday, the United States will take the pitch in what many consider a "must win" match against Ghana, the African nation that has knocked the United States out of the previous two tournaments. Monday's match will also mark the fifth consecutive World Cup tournament that has featured a player from the Kansas City Wizards / Sporting KC in defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi.

#TBT: KC representation at 1998 World Cup -

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So for the next four weeks in #TBT, we'll be looking back at the past four World Cup tournaments that featured Kansas City players and how those players fared in their respective tournament.


First up? 1998.


1998 saw two Kansas City Wizards take the pitch in France as Preki lined up for the United States and Uche Okafor for Nigeria (pictured, right).


Okafor's Nigerian squad finished first in their group for the second consecutive tournament. The Kansas City defender made his World Cup debut in their third group stage match, starting and playing 90 minutes in a 3-1 loss to Paraguay. Okafor did not feature in their Round of 16 loss to Denmark.

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#TBT: KC representation at 1998 World Cup -

Unfortunately for Preki (pictured, left, No. 14), the United States did not fare as well. Steve Sampson's side lost all three group stage matches, tallying only one goal in the tournament. Preki came on in the 57th minute of the USMNT's 2-1 loss to Iran and came on in the 58th minute of their 1-0 loss to Yugoslavia.

One of the most prolific goalscorers in Major League Soccer history, Preki went on to play three more years for the USMNT, tallying four goals in 28 career appearances.


Preki and Okafor played together in Kansas City for five years and - along with current Manager Peter Vermes and assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin - were part of the 2000 team that won the MLS Cup championship. Okafor retired from soccer after the 2000 championship-winning campaign, but Preki played five more years in MLS - four more with Kansas City - and finished his MLS career with 79 goals and 112 assists.

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