The latest Sporting Numerology contains the number that has been on the field for the most games in Sporting Kansas City history, number 17. A surprising number to have the most appearances, but when you have a Sporting Legend, a future Sporting Legend who wore the number more than any other in his career, and a former Rookie of the Year in your history it starts to make sense. Also this week is number 16, which also includes a Sporting Legend and a future Sporting Legend in their numbers. Here’s the latest Sporting Numerology.
Number of players to wear number: 15
Diego Gutierrez 1996
Drafted in the second round of the 1996 MLS College Draft out of Rockhurst College, Gutierrez’s became an immediate contributor in his first year for KC. He played in 28 games for KC, starting 24 of them and recorded four assists. He also played every minute of KC’s five playoff games that season.
John Diffley 1997
Acquired from the Tampa Bay Mutiny before the 97 season, Diffley made six appearances for Kansas City that season, all coming in the first half of the season. Diffley didn’t play a game for Kansas City after June 8th of that year and only made two starts in his six appearances.
Jake Dancy 1998-1999
Dancy’s first full season in Kansas City after being acquired late in 1997 saw him just make two appearances, both starts, in 1998. His 1999 season went better as he made 14 appearances for Kansas City, 10 of them starts and recorded an assist, but he was released at the end of that season as the roster make over for the 2000 season began for KC.
John Wilson 2000
Drafted twice by Kansas City, once in 1999 in the College Draft and again in 2000 in the Superdraft, Wilson made three appearances for Kansas City the second time around with the club. One of those being a start in a 1-1 road draw with Colorado.
Mike Burns 2001
In MLS play Burns wore number 28 in 2001, but the Copa Mercanorte tournament that KC played in that season required players to have numbers between 1 and 23, necessitating Burns and Onandi Lowe (who wore 32) to change their numbers for the tournament. Burns played in five of KC’s six games in the tournament as they went 1-4-1.
Stephen Armstrong 2002-2003
Armstrong was acquired from DC United in a trade before the 2002 season in exchange for Brandon Prideaux. Over his two years in Kansas City, Armstrong made 49 league appearances for Kansas City, scoring five goals, and adding five assists for the club during his time. He was never a regular starter for KC during his time with the team, starting less than half of his appearances, making just 24 starts over the two years.
Brian Roberts 2004-2006
Roberts spent three years in Kansas City but didn’t appear for the club in his first year with the team in 2004. In 2005 and 2006 Roberts made 12 appearances for KC, starting three of those appearances and recording one assist as a defender. All but one of those appearances came in KC’s 2005 season where he played all but 17 of his career minutes in league play with the club.
Eloy Colombano 2007-2008
Acquired in August of 2007, Colombano was on KC’s roster for less than a full year, being waived in June of 2008. Over his time with KC Colombano made 17 appearances for KC, two of those being starts. He recorded one goal and one assist with the club, both in the 2007 campaign.
Josh Wolff 2008-2010
Wolff returned from Germany for his second stint with Kansas City midway through the 2008 season. Over his two and a half years with KC, Wolff scored 16 league goals and added six assists while playing in 64 league games for KC during that stretch.
Mike Jones 2011
Jones was a second-round pick in the 2011 Supplemental Draft but didn’t make an appearance for KC before being waived in May.
Seth Sinovic 2011-2012
Signed by Kansas City after being waived by the New England Revolution, Sinovic ended up making 50 appearances in the two seasons he wore the number 16 jersey for Kansas City, all starts. He helped KC lift their first trophy in eight years in the 2012 US Open Cup final against the Seattle Sounders. He also scored his first professional goal in the 2012 playoffs in KC’s 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo.
Claudio Bieler 2013-2014
Brought in as a Designated Player to be the go to forward for Peter Vermes’ team as they looked to get over the final hurdle and make it to MLS Cup. Bieler started well enough for Kansas City and looked to be a good signing for the club. Later in the season though his goals dried up and Dom Dwyer returned from his loan to Orlando City and took over the majority of the starting duties as Vermes’ starting forward. Bieler only scored one goal in league play after mid-July, and that was a penalty kick. He did score a big goal in the playoffs, scoring the series winner in extra time against New England. He also converted his penalty kick in the shootout to help KC win MLS Cup 2013. Bieler’s playing time was reduced further in 2014 as Dwyer went on to set the club’s single season scoring record. Bieler only made 13 appearances and only 4 starts in 2014 for a total of 41 appearances and 29 starts during his run with the club. He finished having scored 12 league goals for KC to go along with four assists.
Servando Carrasco 2015
Brought in before the 2015 season in a trade with the Houston Dynamo he only played nine games for Kansas City, six of them starts before being traded to Orlando City in exchange for Amobi Okugo.
Lawrence Olum 2016
Brought back to KC after spending 2015 abroad, Olum became another center back in what was a rotating group at the position in 2016. With Nuno Coelho, Ike Opara, Matt Besler, and Kevin Ellis all rotating through along with Olum he played 19 games wearing the number 16 jersey, 17 of those games were starts in 2016. He also scored two goals and had an assist for Kansas City in that season.
Graham Smith 2018-
In his third season now wearing the number 16 jersey, Smith has shown some flashes at the center back position for Kansas City, but has also been exposed from time to time. In his first year he made just two league appearances (both starts) for KC but upped that total to 11 in 2019 with 10 of those 11 being starts. He also scored his first goal for the first team and added an assist last year for Kansas City.
Best player to wear the number: This selection is hard because there’s no real standout in this position. Diego Gutierrez had a good run, but it was only one year. Seth Sinovic was successful but had more success wearing the number 15. In the end the best player to wear the number came down to Josh Wolff and Claudio Bieler. Wolff scored more goals and was around longer, while Bieler scored bigger goals for the club. In the end Bieler being overshadowed by Dom Dwyer hurts his case so the best player to wear the number is Josh Wolff.
Number of players to wear number: 8
Kevin Koetters 1996
Koetters was a known commodity in Kansas City when he was selected by the Wiz in the 12th round of the 1996 Inaugural Draft as he’d been playing with the Kansas City Attack since 1991. During his one season in Kansas City, Koetters played in 15 league games for Kansas City, six of them starts. He also recorded an assist for KC before returning to the Attack after the season.
Edmundo Rodriguez 1997
Rodriguez joined Kansas City for the 1996 season as a defender. He played in 16 games in league play and made one playoff appearance. He started just four of those 16 league games. He recorded an assist on his debut with the club, later in the season he scored his lone goal for the club and later added another assist. He ended up being waived by the club shortly before the 1998 season.
Chris Klein 1998-2005
The 2015 Sporting Legend, Chris Klein joined Kansas City as the 4th overall pick in the 1998 MLS College Draft. Over the next eight years, Klein made 200 appearances for Kansas City in league play, starting 183 of those games. He scored 39 goals and recorded 46 assists in league play over his career with KC. Both numbers were good for second all-time in club history upon his departure from the club. He twice earned the league’s Comeback Player of the Year award in 2002 and 2005. Klein won three trophies while with Kansas City, including recording the assist on Miklos Molnar’s game winner in the 2000 MLS Cup final.
Yura Movsisyan 2006-2007
Drafted fourth overall in the 2006 MLS Superdraft, the 18-year-old, Generation Adidas signing spent a short two years in Kansas City. He played in only 28 games over his two seasons and only started six of those 28 games. In that time, he scored five goals for KC, all coming in the 2007 season, including a brace against the New York Red Bulls. He was traded late in the 2007 season to Real Salt Lake for some allocation money and a pair of draft picks.
Roger Espinoza 2008-2010, 2018-2019
The second of three numbers Roger Espinoza has worn for Kansas City and the second number he has worn at two different times. Over the five seasons that he’s worn the number 17 jersey, he’s played 111 league games for Kansas City, more than he’s played in any number he’s worn for the club. His first three years with the team, from 2008-2010 were mainly spent on the wing or as a wingback for Kansas City after he was drafted as a Generation Adidas player out of college. Over the time wearing 17, he scored four goals and had 18 assists. He hit his career high in both categories, three and nine in the 2018 season while wearing the number.
CJ Sapong 2011-2014
The 2011 MLS rookie of the year, CJ Sapong played in every game but one across all competitions in his rookie year, scoring five goals and adding five assists, plus another in the playoffs. Over his career with KC wearing number 17, Sapong played in 110 league games, scoring 20 goals, and adding nine assists. In all competitions he added another seven goals and three assists to his total. He helped the club lift both a US Open Cup trophy and the MLS Cup during his time in Kansas City.
Saad Abdul-Salaam 2015-2017
Abdul-Salaam’s three-year stint in Kansas City will unfortunately likely most be remembered for his double post penalty kick in Portland in his rookie year. Over his career in KC though Abdul-Salaam played in 64 league games wearing the number 17 jersey and scored a goal. He was part of KC’s run to the 2015 US Open Cup, coming on for Seth Sinovic late in the second half of the final. His original position had been to be the eventual replacement for Chance Myers at right back, but in his final year with KC, Graham Zusi’s transition to the position put Abdul-Salaam back down the depth chart before he was traded in the offseason for KC to acquire Khiry Shelton.
Gadi Kinda 2020-
Acquired on loan for the 2020 season from Beitar Jerusalem, Kinda has had an impressive start to his career with KC, starting both games so far this season, scoring two goals and adding an assist.
Best player to wear the number: There isn’t much of a debate on this one, the best player to wear the number 17 jersey for KC is Chris Klein, he’s scored more goals and recorded more assists than anyone else on the list, he’s in the top five for the club in both goals and assists for the club in their history. The Sporting Legend is the clear choice here. Roger Espinoza may have played more games wearing the number 17 jersey than any other jersey he wore, and CJ Sapong may have won the Rookie of the Year award wearing it, but Klein’s performance wearing the number gives him this spot.