Sporting Kansas City announced on Wednesday the following four nominees for this year's Sporting Legends inductee: Mo Johnston, Chris Klein, Ron Newman and Kerry Zavagnin. Online fan voting begins today and will continue through 11:59 p.m. CT on Friday, July 17.
Sporting Legends pays tribute to club icons and provides a platform for those inducted to re-engage with the local soccer community. Since launching in 2013, Sporting Legends has honored six individuals for their integral roles within the organization and the growth of soccer in Kansas City:
All six have their names displayed outside The Victory Suite in the northwest corner of Sporting Park and were celebrated during on-field ceremonies. In addition, Sporting Legends are invited to participate in local activities surrounding their induction date as an opportunity to reconnect with supporters, further grow the game and once again leave a philanthropic impact on the community.
This year's inductee will be selected based on the fan vote and will be unveiled as the newest member of Sporting Legends at a Sporting Kansas City home match later this year.
Below are brief bios for each of the 2015 Sporting Legends nominees outlining their career achievements and contributions to the club.
Johnston played for Kansas City from 1996-2001, making 164 appearances and scoring 32 goals. The Scottish forward, who earned 38 caps for his country, was a three-time MLS All-Star (1996-1998), the team’s top goal scorer (11) in 1998 and played an integral role in Kansas City’s run to the MLS Cup and MLS Supporters’ Shield in 2000.
“MoJo” stayed attached to MLS after his playing career ended. He coached the New York Red Bulls from 2005-2006 and became Toronto FC’s first manager in 2007. He was Toronto FC’s Director of Football from 2008-2010.
Klein was a vital contributor in the Kansas City midfield from 1998-2005, registering 42 goals and 45 assists in 216 games. He won MLS Comeback Player of the Year in 2002 and 2005 and was a four-time MLS All-Star (2002-2005). Klein’s run of 118 consecutive starts – spanning from June 2005 with Kansas City to April 2009 with the Los Angeles Galaxy – remains an MLS record.
Klein scored five goals in 25 appearances for the U.S. Men’s National Team from 2000-2006 and represented the country at the 2003 Confederations Cup.
Newman became the first head coach in MLS history upon his hiring on Oct. 11, 1995. He led Kansas City alongside his son, assistant coach Guy Newman, in the club's first 100 regular season games from 1996-1999 with a 50-50-0 record (122 points) and an attacking style of play during Major League Soccer's shootout era. Under his direction, KC reached the postseason in back-to-back years (1996 and 1997) and finished first in the Western Conference with a club-record 21 wins in 1997.
Newman arrived in Kansas City with more than four decades of professional soccer experience, first as an accomplished player in his native England before continuing his career in the U.S. and then as a coach with an all-time record of 701-442-27. He won 12 championships as a manager with three different teams (Dallas Tornado, Los Angeles Skyhawks and San Diego Sockers) and became the only coach in NASL history to win two Coach of the Year awards. In 1992, Newman was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
An assistant coach since 2009, Zavagnin has helped transform Sporting Kansas City into one of the League’s most successful franchises. Like Vermes, Zavagnin’s Kansas City playing career began in 2000 when he became a regular starter at the defensive midfield position. He was a 2004 MLS All-Star and Best XI selection, leading the team to the finals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup that season.
Zavagnin made 205 appearances from 2000-2008, and his 20,515 minutes played rank first in franchise history among field players. He received 21 caps for the U.S. Men’s National Team from 2000-2006.