Over the last 10 years, few professional sports franchises have experienced a more transformational journey than Sporting Kansas City. From Wizards to Sporting, from minor league baseball park to world-class soccer stadium, from MLS afterthought to perennial title contender, the 2010s ushered in a Kansas City soccer renaissance as Sporting enjoyed a meteoric rise both on and off the pitch.
Throughout this decade of success, everyone tied to the club—from players and coaches to owners and fans—made priceless memories that will last a lifetime. As the 2010s come to a close, SportingKC.com is counting down the top 20 moments of the decade. The daily series will run from Dec. 12-31, looking back on the biggest matches, announcements and off-the-field developments that left lasting impacts on the club. The top 20 list was determined through voting among front office associates at Sporting. Click here to visit the top 20 as it unfolds.
Sitting atop the club's all-time charts in appearances, minutes played and championships won, Besler and Zusi would almost certainly make the cut for Sporting's Mount Rushmore as living legends at the club.
Their professional career arcs are remarkably similar, as well: both joined Kansas City out of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft before blossoming into regular members of the United States Men's National Team and two of the best MLS players of the 2010s.
There was a brief period of time, however, when their respective futures in Kansas City were less than certain. After back-to-back MLS Best XI selections in 2012 and 2013 and strong showings for the U.S. at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Besler and Zusi had stirred up interest from clubs abroad during the European transfer window that summer.
Any concerns of imminent departures were swiftly wiped away when, in one blockbuster announcement on July 19, 2014, Sporting revealed that the duo had signed long-term contracts as Designated Players. Besler and Zusi, two institutions of Sporting's meteoric rise since the turn of the decade, were here to stay.
As icing on the cake, Sporting defeated the LA Galaxy by a 2-1 scoreline later that day in a nationally televised clash at Children's Mercy Park.
Talk about an afternoon to remember.
Fast-forward to present day, and Besler and Zusi remain staples of a Sporting Kansas City side that has amassed four major trophies and eight playoff appearances over the last nine seasons. As veteran leaders of the club, both will lead Sporting into the next decade as heralded MLS veterans who will be revered in Kansas City forever.