Sporting Kansas City announced on Wednesday the club's 20th Anniversary Best XI, presented by Bud Light. More than 12,000 fan votes at SportingKC.com determined a lineup that includes current players Matt Besler, Dom Dwyer and Graham Zusi, as well as present Manager Peter Vermes.
Unveiled on SKCTV before Sporting Kansas City's match against the Colorado Rapids, the 20th Anniversary Best XI consists of one goalkeeper, three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards. Seven additional players received honorable mention to round out the commemorative 18-man squad.
Goalkeeper - Jimmy Nielsen (2010-13)
Nielsen played four seasons for Sporting KC and earned MLS All-Star (2010, 2012), MLS Goalkeeper of the Year (2012) and MLS Best XI (2012) honors. His 0.99 career goals against average is best in MLS history among goalkeepers with a minimum of 1,000 regular season minutes played, and he leads Sporting KC with 65 wins in all competitions. Nielsen made critical saves in championship game shootouts to help Sporting KC win the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and 2013 MLS Cup.
Defender - Matt Besler (2009 - )
Sporting KC's current captain, Besler has landed MLS All-Star (2011, 2013-15), MLS Best XI (2012-13) and MLS Defender of the Year (2012) accolades. His 222 games played in all competitions rank seventh in club history, and he has started 192 of his 197 MLS appearances (including playoffs) since joining the club in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. A native of Overland Park, Kansas, Besler has won an MLS Cup and two Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups while leading a defense that has posted the most shutouts in MLS since 2011.
Defender - Jimmy Conrad (2003-10)
Conrad made 204 appearances for Kansas City over eight seasons and scored 17 goals, the most by a defender in team history. He guided Kansas City to the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and an appearance in MLS Cup later that season. During his time with the Wizards, the center back was a six-time MLS All-Star (2004-09), a four-time MLS Best XI selection (2004-06, 2008) and the 2005 MLS Defender of the Year.
Defender - Peter Vermes (2000-02)
Vermes anchored the Kansas City defense for three seasons and received 2000 MLS Defender of the Year recognition. His backline performances helped Kansas City set an MLS record with 16 regular season shutouts in 2000 as the club won its first MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield title. As the club's Manager, Vermes has won three major trophies and in 2013 became the first person to win MLS Cup as a player and coach with the same team. He is the team's all-time winningest manager and the eighth winningest coach in MLS history.
Midfielder - Davy Arnaud (2002-11)
Arnaud is the only player in Kansas City history to play 10 seasons at the club. The midfielder won the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, earned 2009 MLS All-Star accolades and captained the side in 2010. He ranks among the club's all-time leaders with 52 goals (second), 40 assists (third) and 21,637 minutes played (third) across all competitions. Arnaud helped Kansas City reach the MLS Cup Playoffs on six occasions, netting four postseason goals.
Midfielder - Chris Klein (1998-2005)
Klein tallied 43 goals and 54 assists in 235 games played for Kansas City across all competitions from 1998-2005, ranking second on the club’s all-time chart with 97 combined goals and assists. He won MLS Comeback Player of the Year honors twice (2002, 2005) and was an MLS All-Star in four straight seasons from 2002-05. He won all three major domestic trophies during his KC career, leading the club to the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup double in 2000 before adding a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title in 2004.
Midfielder - Preki (1996-2000, 2002-05)
Preki spent nine seasons in Kansas City during an illustrious MLS career, collecting league MVP honors twice (1997, 2003), All-Star accolades eight straight times (1996-2003) and MLS Best XI recognition on four occasions (1996, 1997, 2001 and 2003). His 112 career assists rank fourth in MLS history, and he is Sporting KC's all-time leader in goals (81) and assists (104) across all competitions. Preki helped Kansas City secure an MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield double in 2000 and guided the club to seven postseason appearances.
Midfielder - Kerry Zavagnin (2000-08)
Sporting KC's current assistant coach, Zavagnin is the club's all-time leader in games played (291), games started (281) and minutes played (25,278) across all competitions. He played nine years in Kansas City and helped the team claim the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup double in his first season. He was a 2004 MLS All-Star and MLS Best XI selection, leading the team to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title and an appearance in MLS Cup that season.
Midfielder - Graham Zusi (2009 - )
An eight-year veteran for Sporting KC, Graham Zusi has garnered MLS All-Star (2012-15), MLS Best XI (2012-13) and MLS Breakout Player of the Year (2001) accolades in addition to receiving a 2012 MLS MVP nomination. He is second in club history with 58 assists across all competitions, also adding 27 goals in 210 career appearances. Alongside fellow Designated Player Matt Besler, Zusi has helped Sporting KC win three major trophies since 2012.
Forward - Dom Dwyer (2012 - )
Dwyer has scored 48 goals for Sporting KC in all competitions, third most in team history, since being taken in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. He set a single-season club record with 22 regular season goals in 2014, landing MLS All-Star recognition, before adding team-high 12 in 2015. The Englishman helped Sporting KC win the 2013 MLS Cup and scored five goals en route to the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, entering a tie as the club's all-time leading scorer in the tournament.
Forward - Josh Wolff (2003-06, 2008-10)
Wolff spent seven seasons in Kansas City and finished with 43 regular season goals, tied for second most in club history. He is one of two Kansas City players, alongside Preki, to reach double-digit goals in three different regular seasons and played a leading role in Kansas City's run to the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title.
Goalkeeper Tony Meola (1999-2004): Meola spent six seasons in Kansas City and captured MLS MVP, MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, MLS Best XI and MLS Cup MVP in the team's historic 2000 season. The five-time MLS All-Star is Sporting KC's all-time leader with 507 regular season saves.
Defender Nick Garcia (2000-07): The center back ranks second in club history in appearances (273), starts (272) and minutes played (24,715) across all competitions. Garcia played eight seasons in Kansas City, winning all three major trophies.
Defender Chance Myers (2008 - ): The longest-tenured player on Sporting KC's current roster, Myers leads Sporting KC defenders with 19 assists in 167 games across all competitions. He started in the 2012 and 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Finals as well as 2013 MLS Cup.
Midfielder Roger Espinoza (2008-12, 2015 - ): The 2012 MLS All-Star is now in his seventh season at Sporting KC. The two-time Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion has tallied three goals and 17 assists in 154 appearances across all competitions.
Midfielder Jack Jewsbury (2003-10): A member of Kansas City for eight seasons, Jewsbury is seventh in team history with 195 regular season appearances. The Missouri native won the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and helped guide the team to a 2004 Western Conference championship.
Forward Mo Johnston (1996-2001): The six-year MLS veteran finished with 32 goals and 31 assists in 170 games across all competitions. Johnston was a three-time MLS All-Star (1996-98) and contributed four goals and eight assists during Kansas City's 2000 MLS Cup-winning campaign (including playoffs).
Forward Vitalis "Digital" Takawira (1996-99): Takawira is eighth in club history with 28 regular season goals, including two in Kansas City's inaugural match in 1996. The two-time MLS All-Star (1996-97) added 19 assists in 103 regular season appearances over four years.