Sporting Numerology enters the 20s with numbers 20 and 21 in the latest edition. This time we have internationals from Nigeria, Honduras, Chile, and the USA, the club’s first ever Homegrown Player signing, and the number 1 pick in the first ever MLS College Draft. Here’s the next entry in Sporting Numerology.
Number of players to wear number: 14
Uche Okafor 1996-2000
Selected in the 9th round of the Inaugural Player Draft, Okafor was an immediate starter for Kansas City. He played in 119 games over his five seasons with Kansas City, playing 30, 27, 22, and 26 games over his first four years with the club, all of those starts. The 22 starts in the 1998 season is low because he was away with the Nigerian national team for the World Cup that year. His final season in Kansas City he made just two starts and appeared in 14 games as Brandon Prideaux locked down the left back position in KC’s three man back line. When he retired at the end of the 2000 season, he was 3rd all-time in league appearances (119), starts (107), and minutes played (9,513).
Jose Burciaga 2001-2002
Burciaga’s first two years were spent wearing the number 20, but he didn’t spend a lot of time on the field wearing the jersey. He made just three league appearances over those two seasons. He missed most of the 2002 season with a knee injury, only making two appearances in KC’s CONCACAF Champions Cup games against W Connection.
Igor Simutenkov 2003-2004
Over his final two seasons in Kansas City, Simutenkov played in just half of the available league games for Kansas City, just 30 games. He scored eight league goals and had three assists in those two seasons. His most well remembered moment though is the 2004 US Open Cup final when he scored the golden goal in extra time to give Kansas City a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire and their first US Open Cup.
John Minagawa-Webster 2005
Drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 MLS Superdraft, Minagawa-Webster made a couple bench appearances for Kansas City, but never played in a competitive game for Kansas City.
Tyson Wahl 2006-2008
Wahl made 32 appearances over his three years in Kansas City, his first two years in Kansas City he made 16, making just 10 starts. In 2008 though after the club traded away Nick Garcia, Wahl rotated with Aaron Hohlbein in partnering Jimmy Conrad in central defense. His 16 appearances in 2008 were all starts as he more than doubled his career minutes played up to that season.
Zoltan Hercegfalvi 2009-2010
Joined Kansas City late in the 2009 season and was sent off just two minutes into his debut for Kansas City in August of that year. Hercegfalvi made 10 appearances in KC’s final 12 games of the 2009 season and scored two goals for the club in those games. He didn’t play in KC’s opener of the 2010 season against DC United but the next week in St. Louis in a friendly, Hercegfalvi tore ACL in the game and missed the rest of the season, ending his time in KC.
Jamar Beasley 2010
Signed as a veteran presence when the club waived Igor Kostrov in the 2010 season, Beasley never played a game for Kansas City before joining the Missouri Comets in their expansion season.
Birahim Diop 2011
Becoming a bit of a cult hero after his two goal performance in his first start with the club and hattrick in the season finale in 2010. Diop had a bit quieter of a season in 2011 when he wore number 20. He appeared in 18 league games for Kansas City in 2011, eight of them starts. He recorded just one assist wearing the number 20 jersey.
Shawn Singh 2012
A first round pick in the 2012 Supplemental Draft, Singh was signed to the club but never played a game. He ended up being waived by the club in July to make room for Neven Markovic on the roster.
Oriol Rosell 2012-2014
Rosell joined Sporting in August of 2012 the first in the Barcelona B pipeline that Peter Vermes signed. After making just five league appearances in 2012, one start, as well as one start in the playoffs, Rosell became a consistent starter for KC in 2013. He started 31 of KC’s 34 games that year and started all five of KC’s playoff games, unfortunately being subbed out of MLS Cup after just eight minutes due to an injury. In 2014 he started seven of KC’s first 10 games before an injury kept him out of action and then transferring to Sporting Club de Portugal in June. In total, Rosell made 43 appearances for the club, scored two goals, and had two assists.
Jorge Claros 2014
Brought in late in 2014 to help fill the hole left with the departure of Rosell, Claros played in seven games, but started four. He missed three regular season games late in the season for “inappropriate language” and then came back to start KC’s loss in the playoffs, but that was his last appearance for the club.
Amobi Okugo 2015
Acquired in a trade with Orlando City in July, Okugo made three appearances for KC in 2015, one of them a start. He recorded one assist for Kansas City in their 3-1 win over Toronto.
Gianluca Busio 2017
Busio was officially signed in August of 2017 and would be given the number 20 jersey, but never appeared in a game for Kansas City wearing that number.
Daniel Salloi 2018-
Salloi has had an up and down time wearing the number 20 jersey for Kansas City. In 2018 he played in 29 games, 26 of them starts, he led the team in scoring with 11 league goals, added another three in the playoffs, and two more in the US Open Cup that year. In 2019 Salloi still made 28 appearances, but only 16 starts and only scored a single goal, in the home finale of the season. He’s yet to make his 2020 debut through the two games played.
Best player to wear the number: While Oriol Rosell had a good one season run in 2013, and helped lead KC to the title I’m hesitant to give a player who only played one full season in Kansas City the title of the best player to wear the number. Igor Simutenkov created a great memory with goal in the 2004 US Open Cup final, but injuries over his time wearing number 20 hurt his candidacy here. Daniel Salloi could certainly win the title, but he’ll have to have more seasons like 2018 and fewer like 2019. The best player to wear the number 20 is the former Nigerian international, the late Uche Okafor. He’s made by far the most appearances of any player wearing the number and was an integral part to the early Kansas City teams.
Number of players to wear number: 17
Matt McKeon 1996-1997
The first pick in the 1996 College Draft, McKeon 43 appearances for Kansas City wearing the number 21, 31 of those appearances came in 1997, along with 30 of his 39 starts. He added four goals over his first two years with the team as well as two assists. He also scored a playoff goal for the club in 1996.
Brian Bliss 1998
Acquired from the New York/New Jersey Metrostars for a first round college draft pick (used on Mike Petke), Bliss made just three appearances for Kansas City and only one start, the 1998 season opener.
Francisco Gomez 1999-2001
Allocated as a Pro-40 player to Kansas City before the 1999 season, Gomez spent his first three years in Kansas City wearing the number 21. Over those three years he improved his games played each season, finishing with 45 league appearances wearing the number. He scored the majority of his 11 goals while wearing the number, scoring seven goals wearing number 21. He also recorded seven assists over his time wearing 21.
Igor Simutenkov 2002
Coming in after the season had started, Simutenkov played 19 games for Kansas City in 2002, scoring four goals and adding five assists for the Wizards.
Kevin Friedland 2003
Jay Alberts 2004
Christopher Sawyer 2005
Douglas Lascody 2005
None of these four ever played a game for Kansas City.
Lance Watson 2006-2007
Watson’s first two seasons in KC saw him appear in 13 games in league play. He made just four starts over those two seasons, all coming in his rookie season, 2006. The 2007 season saw him play just two times in league play for Kansas City.
Yomby William 2008
Never played a game for Kansas City.
Herculez Gomez 2008-2009
Acquired in September of 2008, Gomez immediately jumped into the lineup for KC, playing the final eight regular season games for KC. Over his time in KC, Gomez played in 34 games, starting 28 of them. He scored just one goal for Kansas City, a stoppage time winner that got Kansas City into the playoffs. He also added five assists for KC over his time with the club.
Igor Kostrov 2010
Signed with the hope of developing him into a contributor down the line, Kostrov was hurt by the lack of a reserve league by the 2010 season and was waived in the end to make room for Jamar Beasley on the roster.
Jon Kempin 2010-2015
The first Homegrown player in Kansas City’s history, Kempin made just seven league appearances for KC, all while wearing the number 21 jersey, those appearances all coming in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. KC regularly loaned him out to Orlando City, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Swope Park, but his later loans all ended up shortened for goalkeepers being waived (Luis Marin) or injury issues. Besides being the first Homegrown Player, he’ll likely be remembered for being in goal in the playoff game against the Portland Timbers that went 11 rounds, where he saved multiple penalty kicks but ended up not converting on his attempt which led to Portland winning.
Justin Mapp 2016
The “first free agent signing in MLS history” was the announcement when Kansas City signed Justin Mapp ahead of the 2016 season. In his only season in KC, Mapp was hampered by injuries off and on the whole season which limited him to just six appearances in league play for KC. He never made a start for the club, only Michael Kraus has made more league appearances without starting a game. Mapp finished his career with KC playing just 43 minutes.
Andrew Dykstra 2017
Acquired in the Re-Entry Draft to replace Alec Kann as KC’s back up to Tim Melia, Dykstra made four league appearances for KC, three of them starts. He replaced Melia in the second half of KC’s October draw with Minnesota. He played the final three league games, going 0-2-1 in those three games. He also started KC’s playoff game. In his five games in league and playoffs for KC, three of them were against the Houston Dynamo.
Felipe Gutierrez 2018-2019
Seemingly dropped into KC’s laps when he became available to the club before the 2018 season. Gutierrez has played in 52 league games over his first two years in Kansas City, starting 49 of those games. He’s scored 19 goals in those 52 games, which has him tied for 14th all time on that list right now. He’s also recorded five assists in league play and another three in the playoffs for Kansas City in the two seasons that he wore the number 21.
Felipe Hernandez 2020-
Hernandez moved from the number 85 that he’d worn for KC up to this point during his time with KC and with the Swope Park Rangers but has yet to appear for Sporting wearing this number.
Best player to wear the number: The number 21 has been worn by more players than any other number in club history (along with the number 23). There are a few players who have made contributions to the club wearing the number, but most haven’t had meaningful impacts on the field, many never even played a game wearing the number. The best player to wear the number is arguably one of the best players to play for the club in their history when looking at their whole playing career, Felipe Gutierrez. He’s played more games wearing the number than any other player in club history and has scored more league goals (19) than the other 16 players to wear the number for KC in their history combined (16).