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.
Now this was just flat-out awesome.
On Oct. 1, 2014, Sporting Kansas City was honored by then-U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in a ceremony celebrating the team’s 2013 MLS Cup championship. Sporting had lifted the Philip F. Anschutz trophy 10 months earlier at Children's Mercy Park after prevailing in penalty kick shootout over Real Salt Lake.
Sporting was represented by numerous players from the 2013 championship team, including captain Jimmy Nielsen who retired two days after MLS Cup, as well as members of the technical staff, front office and Sporting Club ownership group. The ceremony was held in the East Room, the largest room in the White House and the site of many historic events over the last 200 years.
President Obama, the nation’s 44th president, was presented with a framed No. 44 Sporting Kansas City jersey and posed for a group photo with the MLS Cup trophy. Additionally, Sporting conducted a one-hour soccer clinic for children from DC Scores on the South Lawn in support of President Obama’s United We Serve campaign and as a way of highlighting the club’s commitment to programs for underserved and at-risk children through The Victory Project.
Below is a portion of President Obama's remarks from that special afternoon.
"The thing about Kansas City fans is that, even in below-freezing temperatures, the seats were filled. (Children's Mercy Park) was packed. It is a city that loves soccer. They (sell out) games, and in a section of seats called The Cauldron, thousands of fans come out to stand and chant all game long. This past summer, when Americans packed restaurants and stadiums and city parks during the World Cup, fans in Kansas City led the way. It seemed like 10 minutes couldn’t pass without seeing live shots of thousands of fans crowding the Power & Light District and cheering on Team USA. I know they cheered extra hard for Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, who represented Sporting KC and their country in Brazil. So as soccer continues to grow here in the United States, it does so in large part because of the great example of dedicated fans in Kansas City. So congratulations to all of you.
"In the same way that Kansas City has embraced its soccer team, the soccer team has embraced the city. Aurelien has a fashion line and clothing shop in Kansas City. I’m going to look like him after I get out of office. He looks pretty sharp. You’ve got Seth Sinovic, assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin and (former) goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen who all made their debuts in the Kansas City Ballet last year. That’s impressive. They got to bring that trophy with them on stage to distract the audience from their limited ballet skills. And through The Victory Project, Sporting KC works to raise money for kids in the region with cancer, special needs and life-threatening medical conditions through the Make A Wish Foundation. They’ve opened new practice fields and they're hosting soccer clinics all over Missouri and Kansas. This is an organization that knows that being a champion isn’t just about what you do on the field. It’s also what you do off the field. I know that the entire city is very proud of you. We want to congratulate you, and I want to congratulate all the fans of Kansas City for the great job you do as well."