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.
The Kansas City Wizards were in a precarious position seven matches into the 1999 season.
Rooted at the basement of the standings with an 0-7 record, Kansas City saw a changing of the managerial guard as owner Lamar Hunt appointed American soccer pioneer Bob Gansler as the club's second head coach. From there, the Wizards slowly but surely began their ascension.
Gansler's first game in charge came 21 years ago today—a home fixture against the high-flying LA Galaxy at Arrowhead Stadium. And although the hosts entered the night without a win, they would emerge with a 2-1 upset victory to give Gansler a winning start to his heralded tenure.
Playmaking maestro Preki assisted both of Kansas City's goals in the first half, setting up defender and U.S. soccer icon Alexi Lalas in the 10th minute before Chris Klein made it 2-0 near the half-hour mark. Danny Pena reduced LA's deficit before halftime, but the Wizards would hold on for their first triumph of the year.
Like current manager Peter Vermes, Gansler had Hungarian descent and represented the United States at the international level. He served as the U.S. Men's National Team head coach at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, having qualified the U.S. for the country's first World Cup in 40 years, and was later inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011.
Gansler managed the Wizards for eight seasons from 1999-2006, winning 86 regular season matches and leading the side to five straight playoff appearances from 2000-2004. Gansler was named 2000 MLS Coach of the Year for his role in the team's double-winning campaign and went on to secure Kansas City's first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2004.
Rather appropriately, Gansler was a member of the inaugural Sporting Legends class alongside midfielder Preki and goalkeeper Tony Meola, joining a pair of generational talents he coached in Kansas City.