On This Day presented by UMKC takes daily strolls down memory lane and celebrates memorable moments in Sporting Kansas City 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. This series pays tribute to these specific instances, turning back the clocks while treating fans to nostalgia and club history lessons. For more, visit SportingKC.com/OnThisDay.
Twice under the tutelage of legendary head coach Bob Gansler did the Kansas City Wizards take the field on May 24 for MLS action at Arrowhead Stadium. And on both occasions, the hosts struck late to seal dramatic victories.
Nineteen years ago today, still in the early stages of their MLS Cup-defending 2001 campaign, Kansas City edged the New York/New Jersey MetroStars by a 1-0 scoreline. The Wizards had dictated terms throughout the contest, having racked up 19 shot attempts entering second-half stoppage time. Yet the game remained scoreless, thanks in large part to seven saves from a 22-year-old MetroStars goalkeeper named Tim Howard.
With 92 minutes on the clock and referee Kevin Terry on the verge of blowing his full-time whistle, Kansas City broke through. A buildup involving Chris Klein and Francisco Gomez was finished off by first-year Jamaican striker Onandi Lowe, the Wizards cashing in on their 20th shot of the night to claim all three points.
Two years later, on May 24, 2003, a crowd of 16,000 welcomed rivals LA Galaxy to Kansas City for a Memorial Day Weekend matchup. The Galaxy were reigning MLS Cup champions at the time but had gone 0-2-4 to open the 2003 season, and their return to winning ways was put on further hold as Gansler's men emerged triumphant.
Russian forward Igor Simutenkov fired the Wizards ahead in the 21st minute, only for LA's lethal striker Carlos Ruiz to restore parity with 15 minutes left. The battle ebbed and flowed with both sides seeking a winner, and in the 89th minute, Kansas City's talisman delivered the heroics. One month shy of his 40th birthday, Preki notched the game-winner in what was yet another signature moment for the future Sporting Legend.
Preki would only get better as the season ensued, and at age 40 he earned 2003 MLS MVP honors with 12 goals and 17 assists. In doing so, he became (and remains) the only player to win league MVP twice.