On This Day: Sporting opens historic 2000 season, earns 2012 home win

Twenty years ago today, the Kansas City Wizards opened what would become the most successful season in team history with a wild 4-3 victory over the star-studded Chicago Fire at Arrowhead Stadium.

March 25, 2000, marked the Kansas City debuts of four players who are widely considered club legends to this day. At the forefront, defender and current manager Peter Vermes anchored a three-man backline, flanked by a fellow newcomer in Nick Garcia who would end up as one of Kansas City's all-time appearance leaders.

In midfield, current assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin played his first of 291 matches for the club, a record that would stand for almost two decades until it was surpassed by Matt Besler. And further up the field, striker Miklos Molnar bagged the first of 17 MLS goals in his lone season with the Wizards. The "Danish Dynamite" remains one of the biggest folk heroes to don a Kansas City uniform, as he was also the goal scorer in the Wizards' conference championship decider against the LA Galaxy and the immortal 1-0 defeat of Chicago in the 2000 MLS Cup.

Appropriately enough, the 2000 curtain raiser served as a preview of the league's championship match later that season. The game itself was a barnburner, with Molnar, Chris Klein and Chris Henderson giving Kansas City a 3-0 lead before Ante Razov grabbed a goal back for Chicago just before halftime. Preki made it 4-1 to the hosts and the Fire managed late consolation goals from future Wizard Diego Gutierrez and Ukrainian star Dema Kovalenko.

Kansas City and Chicago both finished the 2000 regular season with a league-best 57 points in 32 games, but Bob Gansler's Wizards won the Supporters' Shield by virtue of goal difference: their plus-18 (47 GF, 29 GA) barely edged the Fire's plus-16 (67 GF, 51 GA). Despite that, Chicago was a heavy favorite to prevail in the MLS Cup that fall. Not to be outdone, however, Kansas City emerged victorious in a battle that saw goalkeeper Tony Meola make 10 saves and put the finishing touches on an MLS MVP campaign.

Exactly 12 years after Kansas City's MLS Cup triumph, and precisely eight years ago today, Sporting continued their scintillating start to the young season with an exciting 2-1 comeback win over FC Dallas at Children's Mercy Park. After Ricardo Villar had launched the visitors ahead with an impressive free kick, French center back Aurelien Collin leveled terms on the stroke of intermission and Kei Kamara notched a late winner, assisted by Chance Myers and Graham Zusi and the culmination of a lovely buildup from the back involving multiple players.

Series: 
Topics: