Last Monday, Matt Besler became the first Kansas City-born player to feature in a FIFA World Cup when he started the United States' 2-1 win over Ghana. Kansas City fans had even more to cheer about on Monday when Sporting KC winger Graham Zusi came off the bench to provide the game-winning assist in the win.
But did you know that Besler and Zusi were not the first two players to play in a World Cup while playing their professional soccer in Kansas City?
That honor goes to Uche Okafor and Preki in 1998, who represented Nigeria and the United States, respectively.
Four years later, Tony Meola became the third Kansas City Wizards player to be named to a World Cup roster, when head coach Bruce Arena named the New Jersey native as his third goalkeeper behind Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller.
After playing every minute for the United States at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, Meola did not feature again for the national team until January 1999, opting to pursue a career as a professional kicker in the NFL. Meola returned to the national team picture in 1999, but did not see time for the United States at the 2002 World Cup.
Meola retired from professional soccer in 2006 as one of the most decorated goalkeepers in MLS and Kansas City history. He won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, MLS MVP and MLS Cup MVP in 2000, in a year that saw the Wizards win their first MLS Cup title.
As part of the League's 10th anniversay in 2005, MLS named Meola to the MLS All-Time Best XI squad. Meola was inducted in the inaugural Sporting Legend class in 2013.