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Sporting Numerology Part 5: Numbers 8 and 9

Continuing to work through the best players to wear each number, this time it’s the numbers 8 and 9.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Sporting Kansas City William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing to work through the numbers we’ve reached the end of the single digits with number 8 and 9 today. With the numbers 8 and 9. With these numbers you have a future Sporting Legend, a current Sporting Legend, the player with the highest transfer fee in club history, and more. Here’s the latest update of Sporting Numerology.

Here are the prior editions:





Number 8

Number of players to wear that number: 8

Eric Eichmann 1996

Eichmann was selected by Kansas City in the fourth round of the league’s inaugural draft and played just the 1996 season with the club before retiring from professional soccer. He made 15 appearances for Kansas City in the season, but only four of those were starts and none of those starts came after the month of May.

Damian Silvera 1997

Silvera was acquired from the New York/New Jersey Metrostars before the 1997 season along with a 1998 first round pick (that was used to select Chris Klein) in exchange for Mike Sorber. Silvera came to KC with youth national team experience, he was part of the US Olympic team at the 1996 Olympics the year before. With Kansas City though he appeared in three games in late April and early May before being released by the club.

Jamel Mitchell 1997

Mitchell was acquired on loan from the Nashville Metros late in the 1997 season. He made a single appearance for the club, in their regular season finale against the Los Angeles Galaxy coming on as a substitute for the final 16 minutes.

Chris Brown 1999-2003

A first round pick in 1999, Brown spent close to five seasons in Kansas City before being traded late in the 2003 season to New England. Over his time in KC, Brown played in 123 league games, scoring 15 goals for the club. He contributed four goals and three assists in 28 games in the disastrous 1999 season. In 2000 he took a step back, appearing in 22 games, 10 of those starts but didn’t score a goal. In the 2001 and 2002 seasons though Brown was a regular in the lineup for KC, appearing in 77 of KC’s 78 games across all competitions in those two seasons. He was also the club’s leading scorer in their first run to the semifinals of an international competition, the 2002 CONCACAF Champions Cup. In 2003 he was traded to the New England Revolution along with Dario Fabbro for Wolde Harris and Jorge Vazquez.

Diego Walsh 2004-2005

Acquired from the Columbus Crew, Walsh was expected to be the long-term replacement for Preki that turned into the immediate replacement for Preki after he was injured in preseason and missed most of the season. Unfortunately for Walsh he was not the replacement for Preki. In 2004 he made 15 appearances, 11 starts but recorded no goals or assists. In 2005 he made two appearances in KC’s Champions Cup games against Deportivo Saprissa but only made a single league appearance as a substitute before being waived by the club.

Ryan McMahen 2007-2008

McMahen never made a league appearance for KC in his three seasons with the club, two of those seasons he wore the number 8. McMahen missed all the 2007 season with injury. In 2008 he did play in both of KC’s US Open Cup games that year, starting KC’s 4-2 win over the Carolina Railhawks and coming on as a substitute in KC’s 0-0(6-5) shootout loss to the USL Seattle Sounders. McMahen did make his penalty kick in the shootout.

Stephane Auvray 2010

Of Auvray’s two seasons in Kansas City, his 2010 season was his best, he appeared in 21 of KC’s 30 games that year, starting all those games. He formed a defensive midfield partnership with both Craig Rocastle and Jack Jewsbury at different times during the season while also recording one assist.

Graham Zusi 2011-

Zusi moved to the number 8 jersey in his third season and has worn it ever since. Over his 10 years wearing the jersey, Zusi has amassed 247 appearances in league play, 229 starts, 27 goals and 63 assists. He has twice been named to the league’s Best XI as well in 2012 and 2013. He was also a finalist for the league’s MVP award in 2012.

Best player to wear the number: Of all the entries I’ve done so far, this is by far the easiest selection that I’ve made. The best player to wear the number 8 jersey is Graham Zusi and it’s a long way to whoever would be the second choice wearing that number.

Number 9

Number of players to wear that number: 15

Peter Isaacs 1996

Isaacs never made an appearance for Kansas City.

Ryan Tinsley 1997-1998

Tinsley was actually playing in Germany when MLS kicked off in 1996 but joined MLS the following year after being selected by KC in the Supplemental Draft. Over his two seasons in KC Tinsley was a reliable contributor, playing in 61 of KC’s 64 regular season games over those two seasons. In that time, he scored three goals and had nine assists for Kansas City.

Alex Bunbury 1999-2000

Brought in midway through the disastrous 1999 season Bunbury couldn’t save the season, but he did help. He scored four goals and added four assists in the 19 games he played. Over those 19 games, only Preki contributed to more goals (four goals, five assists) in those games. His 2000 season was less successful as he only made five appearances for KC, three of them starts. His last league appearance was June 4th of that year (KC’s first loss of the 2000 season). He made his final appearance for the club 10 days later in a US Open Cup shootout loss to the Chicago Sockers. He retired after the 2000 season.

Kerry Zavagnin 2001

Zavaganin, a defensive midfielder, wearing the number 9 jersey (typically a striker’s number) was certainly an odd sight for the one season he wore it in 2001. He led the team that season in appearances, starts, and minutes played in both league play and in all competitions. He scored one goal and added five assists for KC in 2001.

Dario Fabbro 2002-2003

Brought in after the 2002 season started, Fabbro made 16 appearances, all starts in the 2002 season. He was the club’s third leading scorer even though he played nine fewer games than the two players that tied for the most (Preki and Chris Klein). Fabbro also scored in the playoffs, Open Cup, and Champions Cup that season, becoming one of only four players in KC history to score a goal in four competitions in one season. He scored nine in all competitions that season. In 2003 though Fabbro struggled for time, making just eight appearances and only two starts in league play for KC, not getting on the scorers’ sheet, before being traded with Chris Brown to the New England Revolution.

Jorge Vazquez 2003

Acquired along with Wolde Harris in the Fabbro/Brown trade Vazquez never made an appearance for Kansas City. He only made four appearance for the Revolution before the trade and in hindsight seems to just be an add on to the trade.

Sasha Victorine 2005-2008

Acquired before the 2005 season, Victorine immediately stepped into KC’s lineup and contributed appearing in 30 of 32 games in 2005, scoring seven goals and adding four assists. That would be his largest offensive output for KC, but over his three full seasons in KC (05-07) he played in 90 of KC’s 94 games. His final season in KC, Victorine played in 16 games before being traded to Chivas USA and proceeding to score against his former club in his first game against KC. Over his time with KC, Victorine played in 106 games, scored 13 goals and added 19 assists in league play for the club.

Adam Cristman 2009

Brought in by Curt Onalfo to help the offense in 2009, Cristman’s time in KC was filled with injuries. Cristman only played in five games for Kansas City in the 2009 season, a five-game stretch from late July through August when KC also fired Onalfo after a 6-0 loss to FC Dallas, Cristman’s first start for the club. In the offseason Cristman rejoined Onalfo at DC United.

Teal Bunbury 2010-2013

Bunbury became the first son of an MLS player to play in MLS (and for the same team) when KC drafted him in the first round of the 2010 MLS draft. Bunbury had a slow start to his career in KC in 2010 but ended up making 26 appearances, 13 starts in his rookie year and scored five goals. He was the club’s joint leading scorer in league play in 2011 with nine goals and led the club in scoring in all competitions with 12 goals that year. His 2012 season was cut short when he tore his ACL in a game against the New York Red Bulls on a play that ended up leading to a goal for KC. He returned in 2013 but only made 12 appearances, and only one start that year in league play. Over his time in KC, Bunbury made 89 appearances in league play for KC, scoring 19 goals and seven assists before being traded to New England in the offseason after the 2013 season.

Toni Dovale 2014

Dovale spent one season in KC, playing in 19 league games, making 14 starts, but only scoring one goal. Where he made his mark in KC was in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2014 where Dovale scored three goals in four games. His option wasn’t picked up after the 2014 season and he headed back to Spain.

Krisztian Nemeth 2015, 2018-2019

In Nemth’s two stints in Kansas City he scored 19 goals in league play for Kansas City and 29 in all competitions. His time in 2015 saw him out on the wing where he scored 10 league goals in 28 league games, one in the playoffs, and five in the US Open Cup in 33 games in all competitions before moving to Qatar. Returning in the middle of the 2018 season Nemeth scored one goal in nine games in league play as Khiry Shelton and Diego Rubio were regularly selected over him. In 2019 he was the club’s starting striker, playing in the “number 9” position. After a hot start he scored just twice for Kansas City after May 18th, finishing the season with 8 goals in 24 appearances. Over his two plus seasons, Nemeth made 61 league appearances for Kansas City.

Diego Rubio 2016

Rubio’s first year in Kansas City was limited after he was signed as a Young Designated Player. He made 15 appearances, only three of them starts and scoring one goal while wearing the number 9 jersey. He also scored in the US Open Cup and in the CONCACAF Champions League that season before his season was cut short with an ACL injury in October.

Latif Blessing 2017

With the help of hindsight, probably one of the biggest regrets in Peter Vermes’ coaching career is leaving Latif Blessing exposed in the 2017 Expansion Draft. Blessing had a successful first season in Kansas City scoring three goals in 25 league games playing mostly on the wing for Sporting. He added another three goals in five games in KC’s run to winning the 2017 US Open Cup, including scoring the first goal in the final that year.

Alan Pulido 2020-

Pulido, the transfer fee in club history and the highest paid player has had a strong start to his Sporting career, scoring a goal in each of his first two games for Kansas City.

Best player to wear the number: This is a tough choice because there aren’t a lot of top performances from players. Some players like Teal Bunbury and Krisztian Nemeth have had one stand out season but have struggled in other seasons during their stay in Kansas City. In the end the best player to wear the number 9 is certainly up for grabs should Alan Pulido have a successful stint in Kansas City. Currently though the best player to wear the number 9 jersey isn’t a striker, who typically wears the number 9 jersey. Right now, the best player is Sasha Victorine, not a flashy player but was consistently a leader for the mid-00 Kansas City Wizards teams.