Manchester City FC kicked off their tour of the United States on Wednesday with a four-goal performance at Sporting Park, bookended by a pair of fantastic finishes from the run of play. Bruno Zuculini struck two minutes into the match with a SportsCenter Top 10 Play and Kelechi Iheanacho capped off the scoring two minutes from full time with a goal on his City debut.
So it goes for a squad that lit up the scoreboards during their 2013-14 campaign -- to the tune of a club record 156 goals in all competitions, including 102 in the Premier League -- that when missing many of their biggest stars in the wake of World Cup duty, along come two newcomers whose names are not yet listed on the roster of MCFC.com but are showing up in headlines across the UK today.
Meet Bruno Zuculini, the 21-year-old that is working his way through the youth system of World Cup runners-up Argentina. Then there's Kelechi Iheanacho, the Golden Ball and Silver Boot winner at the 2013 U-17 FIFA World Cup for Nigeria. He now is a regular for the Super Eagles U-20's.
While those two await their senior national team debuts in the not-so-distant future, Manchester City's other two goal scorers on Wednesdsay night have represented their respective countries in international competition. Defenders Dedryck Boyata (23) and Aleksandar Kolarov (28) have played for Belgium and Serbia, respectively, with the latter making two appearances at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
And that's the ultimate objective: the opportunity to play on the sport's biggest stage. Yet, as any player will testify, the path to reaching said goal is a winding one in a global game dotted with destinations throughout the world.
Kansas City, Kansas for example. Since opening in 2011, Sporting Park has hosted a growing list of international teams -- both clubs and countries -- featuring dozens of players with the pedigree to make it to the highest level.
In friendlies alone we've seen both giants of Manchester; their EPL counterparts Newcastle United and Stoke City; along with champions of France (Montpellier), Italy (AS Roma) and Mexico (CD Guadalajara). Then sprinkle in Olympic and World Cup qualifying, CONCACAF Champions League competition and, of course, Major League Soccer matches for a recipe that produces quite the pool of players whom Sporting Kansas City supporters have seen in-person over the past five years.
Which got us thinking. How many players at the 2014 FIFA World Cup had appeared in Kansas City? More than you might think (and probably more than our research caught -- leave a comment below if we've missed someone).
By our count, 57 players who were in Brazil have played at least one match in KC during their careers. Among them, 41 of those 57 had yet to appear in a World Cup at the time they last played in Kansas City.
Check out the list below (in chronological order based on player's most recent appearance) for the roll call...
|Player||Played for...||Competition (date)||Country|
|Matt Besler||Sporting KC||2009-present||United States|
|Graham Zusi||Sporting KC||2009-present||United States|
|*Jorge Claros||Sporting KC||2014-present||Honduras|
|*Roger Espinoza||Sporting KC||2008-2012||Honduras|
|*Guillermo Ochoa||Club America||Club friendly (9/16/09)||Mexico|
|Jean Beausejour||Club America||Club friendly (9/16/09)||Chile|
|Javier Hernandez||CD Guadalajara||Club friendly (9/16/09)||Mexico|
|Chris Smalling||Manchester United||Club friendly (7/25/10)||England|
|Nani||Manchester United||Club friendly (7/25/10)||Portugal|
|Danny Welbeck||Manchester United||Club friendly (7/25/10)||England|
|Tim Krul||Newcastle United||Club friendly (7/20/11)||Netherlands|
|*Cheick Tiote||Newcastle United||Club friendly (7/20/11)||Ivory Coast|
|Shola Ameobi||Newcastle United||Club friendly (7/20/11)||Nigeria|
|Mario Martinez||Honduras U-23||Olympic Qualifying (3/30/12)||Honduras|
|Andy Najar||Honduras U-23||Olympic Qualifying (3/30/12)||Honduras|
|Luis Garrido||Honduras U-23||Olympic Qualifying (3/30/12)||Honduras|
|Hector Herrera||Mexico U-23||Olympic Qualifying (3/30/12)||Mexico|
|Javier Aquino||Mexico U-23||Olympic Qualifying (3/30/12)||Mexico|
|Diego Reyes||Mexico U-23||Olympic Qualifying (3/30/12)||Mexico|
|Alan Pulido||Mexico U-23||Olympic Qualifying (3/30/12)||Mexico|
|Marvin Chavez||SJ Earthquakes||MLS reg. season (5/27/12)||Honduras|
|Steven Beitashour||SJ Earthquakes||MLS reg. season (5/27/12)||Iran|
|Remy Cabella||Montpellier||Club friendly (7/24/12)||France|
|Asmir Begovic||Stoke City||Club friendly (8/1/12)||Bosnia/Herzegovina|
|*Wilson Palacios||Stoke City||Club friendly (8/1/12)||Honduras|
|*Tim Cahill||NY Red Bulls||MLS reg. season (8/26/12)||Australia|
|*Clint Dempsey||United States||WC Qualifying (10/16/12)||United States|
|DeAndre Yedlin||MLS All-Stars||All-Star Game (7/31/13)||United States|
|Omar Gonzalez||LA Galaxy||All-Star Game (7/31/13)||United States|
|*Michael Bradley||AS Roma||All-Star Game (7/31/13)||United States|
|*Vasilis Torosidis||AS Roma||All-Star Game (7/31/13)||Greece|
|Miralem Pjanic||AS Roma||All-Star Game (7/31/13)||Bosnia/Herzegovina|
|*Daniele De Rossi||AS Roma||All-Star Game (7/31/13)||Italy|
|Roy Miller||NY Red Bulls||MLS reg. season (8/3/13)||Costa Rica|
|Geoff Cameron||United States||WC Qualifying (10/11/13)||United States|
|*DaMarcus Beasley||United States||WC Qualifying (10/11/13)||United States|
|Jermaine Jones||United States||WC Qualifying (10/11/13)||United States|
|Mix Diskerud||United States||WC Qualifying (10/11/13)||United States|
|Alejandro Bedoya||United States||WC Qualifying (10/11/13)||United States|
|*Jozy Altidore||United States||WC Qualifying (10/11/13)||United States|
|Aron Johannsson||United States||WC Qualifying (10/11/13)||United States|
|*Tim Howard||United States||WC Qualifying (10/11/13)||United States|
|*Noel Valladares||CD Olimpia||CCL (10/23/13)||Honduras|
|Brayan Beckeles||CD Olimpia||CCL (10/23/13)||Honduras|
|Donis Escober||CD Olimpia||CCL (10/23/13)||Honduras|
|Jerry Bengtson||NE Revolution||MLS postseason (11/6/13)||Honduras|
|*Boniek Garcia||Houston Dynamo||MLS postseason (11/23/13)||Honduras|
|Brad Davis||Houston Dynamo||MLS postseason (11/23/13)||United States|
|Nick Rimando||Real Salt Lake||MLS Cup (12/7/13)||United States|
|*Jesus Corona||Cruz Azul||CCL (3/12/14)||Mexico|
|Joao Rojas||Cruz Azul||CCL (3/12/14)||Ecuador|
|Marco Fabian||Cruz Azul||CCL (3/12/14)||Mexico|
|*Victor Bernardez||SJ Earthquakes||MLS reg. season (3/22/14)||Honduras|
|Chris Wondolowski||SJ Earthquakes||MLS reg. season (3/22/14)||United States|
|Kyle Beckermann||Real Salt Lake||MLS reg. season (4/5/14)||United States|
|Waylon Francis||Columbus Crew||MLS reg. season (5/4/14)||Costa Rica|
|Giancarlo Gonzalez||Columbus Crew||MLS reg. season (5/4/14)||Costa Rica|
*Also played in previous FIFA World Cup