Sporting Kansas City today announced the four finalists for this year’s fan vote for the Sporting Legends inductee. The club announced that Nick Garcia, Diego Gutierrez, Mo Johnston and Josh Wolff are the four candidates to join the current group of eight Sporting Legends.
Let’s take a look at the four finalists and their statistical output for Sporting Kansas City during their career.
Sporting KC’s first first round pick in the 2000 draft (second overall), Garcia was a stalwart in KC’s defense for all eight seasons that he was in Kansas City. In many longevity categories, Garcia is second all time only to Sporting Legend Kerry Zavagnin. Garcia is second in appearances in all competitions (273), third in league appearances (224), second in starts in all competitions (272), second in league starts (224), second in minutes played in all competitions (24,650) and league minutes (20,158). He won three trophies with Kansas City, the 2000 Supporters’ Shield, 2000 MLS Cup, and 2004 US Open Cup.
Graduated from Blue Springs High School and Rockhurst University was selected by the KC Wiz in the 1996 college draft in the second round and was a regular contributor in the club’s inaugural season, appearing in 28 of the 32 games. An ACL injury caused him to miss the entire 1997 season, after which he was left exposed and taken by the Chicago Fire in the expansion draft. Gutierrez played four seasons with the Fire, appearing in two MLS Cups, winning one before being traded back to Kansas City. Gutierrez then spent the next four years in KC, eventually captaining the club to the 2004 US Open Cup championship over his former club. Before Gutierrez was traded back to the Fire before the 2006 season, Gutierrez was in the top 10 for the club in appearances (119 league, 147 all competitions), starts (108, 135), and minutes played (9,763, 12,246).
The former Scottish international made his debut with the KC Wiz in the wild 6-4 win over the Columbus Crew in the club’s first season, scoring two goals in the game. Over the course of the next six seasons he scored 31 league goals, 32 in all competitions, both good for second all time at the time of his retirement in 2001. He also retired as the club’s all time leader in league minutes (12,600), minutes in all competitions (14,182), appearances in league (149) and all competitions (169), as well as starts (142 league, 157 all). Marks that have all been passed by other players, but in the early years of the franchise he was one of the regulars for the team. He’s probably best remembered for the 2000 MLS Western Conference final mini game where he took a cleat to the face to knock a ball into the path of Miklos Molnar, who scored to send the Wizards to their first MLS Cup final.
Wolff is one of the top scorers in club history, having scored 43 league goals and 46 in all competitions in his career with Kansas City. The former US international spent two stints with the Wizards, having been acquired before the 2003 season and then required mid-way through the 2008 season. Wolff gave the Wizards an actual scoring threat at forward, something the club had trouble doing over that period of time. He also did his fair share of assisting on goals, finishing his career with 26 league assists and 30 across all competitions, good for fifth at the time (has since fallen to seventh). Like the others on the list, he is in the club’s top 20 in minutes played (11,467 league, 12,939 all), appearances (144 league, 165 all), and starts (128 league, 144 all).
Who to Vote For
With all of that, who to vote for is the question to answer. For me it really comes down to Garcia, one of the longest serving players for the club and one of the top players in minutes played, appearances, and starts and Johnston, one of the best players from the club’s early years.
Both players in my opinion deserve to go in, but after voting for Zavagnin last year, this year my vote is going to the player responsible for one of the more iconic images of the club’s early years. The picture of Johnston’s face bloody from the boot to the face in the 2000 Western Conference finals is one of the images that most older fans will point to as the most iconic from the club’s early years. He could easily have come over and coasted a bit on his prior reputation, but that wasn’t Johnston when he was here. He gave his all on the field and it was noticed by the fans. This is the year that Johnston deserves to go in.
Who are you going to vote for?
Which Sporting Legend’s finalist are you voting for?
This poll is closed