Hat-trick hero Johnny Russell may have stolen the headlines in Sporting Kansas City's 3-2 win over Seattle Sounders FC, but that certainly wasn't the only narrative to warm supporters' hearts on Sunday at sunny Children's Mercy Park.
After more than a year on the sidelines with a knee injury, do-it-all midfielder/defender Jimmy Medranda entered as an 89th-minute substitute to the deafening roar of a capacity crowd.
The 25-year-old Colombian last stepped between the white lines on May 20, 2018, in a 1-1 draw at Minnesota United FC. His last appearance at Children's Mercy Park? You'd have to go back to May 5, 2018.
After an intensive knee operation and several months of rehabilitation, Medranda made his long-awaited comeback Sunday. Needless to say, the emotional occasion brought a smile to his face and delighted the thousands of supporters in attendance.
Medranda even came close to scoring in his brief cameo, rattling the woodwork with a piledriver on his patented left boot.
Yesterday was one of the best days of my life. I’m so happy to be back with my teammates representing SKC. I want to thank the Sporting medical staff, to my girlfriend, training staff, coaching staff and my teammates for the endless encouragement and support! To all the fans I can’t thank you guys enough! Your love, prayers and kind words helped me during difficult times!
Medranda joined Sporting in 2013 at age 19 and was part of the teams that won the 2013 MLS Cup as well as U.S. Open Cup titles in 2015 and 2017. He was a regular starter for the club from 2016 to 2017 and has started 62 of 87 MLS regular season appearances during his successful stint in Kansas City.
Sporting will play for a second straight victory on Wednesday when they meet LA Galaxy at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets for the match are on sale at SeatGeek.com as Sporting celebrates Soccer For All, signifying that all fans are welcome to the club regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.
Wednesday's game will also air live on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.