With the 2020 MLS season on temporary hold, SportingKC.com is taking daily strolls down memory lane with an "On This Day" web series that celebrates memorable moments in team history. As one of Major League Soccer's proud charter members, Sporting has a decorated past full of thrilling victories, amazing goals, momentous off-the-field developments and more. "On This Day" pays tribute to these specific instances, turning back the clocks while treating fans to nostalgia and club history lessons. To catch up on the series as it unfolds, visit SportingKC.com/OnThisDay.
Eighteen years ago today, the Kansas City Wizards claimed arguably their biggest upset win in club history.
On April 24, 2002, Kansas City hosted Mexican giants Santos Laguna in the decisive second leg of the 2002 Concacaf Champions’ Cup—North America’s premier international club tournament at the time. The Wizards had taken a 2-1 first-leg loss two weeks earlier in Mexico, but a goal from Gary Glasgow had given the MLS underdogs a fighting chance heading into the return fixture at Arrowhead Stadium.
Santos Laguna, which hoisted its second Liga MX title a year earlier, were in the midst of another solid domestic campaign and one of the favorites in the 2002 Concacaf Champions’ Cup. The Wizards, meanwhile, had just one MLS match under their belts before falling to Santos in the first leg of the quarterfinal series on April 10. To complicate matters, the second leg on April 24 fell between two MLS away fixtures against D.C. United and the Dallas Burn, respectively.
But on this fateful night, the Cinderella slipper belonged to head coach Bob Gansler and the Wizards.
Goals from Chris Brown (pictured above) and Carey Talley propelled Kansas City to a gutsy 2-1 win on the night and a 3-2 aggregate triumph, sending the team to the Concacaf Champions’ Cup semifinals for the first time. The result gave Kansas City their first-ever victory against a Mexican opponent and remained the team’s only defeat of a Liga MX side until 2014.
Kansas City’s run in the tournament ended with a semifinal loss to Monarchas Morelia, but Gansler’s men had nonetheless posted the team’s best-ever finish in a major international competition. Sporting wouldn’t reach the semifinals of North America’s top club tournament again until 2019.