Kansas City Wizards
Head Coach: Bob Gansler
Team site: http://kc.wizards.mlsnet.com/MLS/kcw/
Officially, it all began on June 6, 1995, when MLS Chairman Alan I. Rothenberg introduced Kansas City as one of the ten charter members of Major League Soccer.
The real fun began four months later, when the League unveiled the nicknames, logos and uniform designs for all ten charter franchises in a gala event at the Palladium in New York City on October 17, 1995. A separate press conference was held at the same time in Kansas City, setting the stage for the unveiling of Kansas City's newest professional sports franchise - the Kansas City Wiz.
Although early speculation toward the name centered around the obvious connection with the "Wizard of Oz", that was never the intention of the club. Rather, the team wanted a completely unique name that would create instant awareness for the team throughout Kansas City, as well as the rest of the United States. With the "Wiz" moniker, the club created market awareness.
The Wiz name originally came to life following a month-long campaign in the Kansas City Star, asking fans to submit names for the new MLS franchise. Over 3,200 entries were received.
However, things do change and on November 18, 1996, the club officially extended its name to Wizards. As part of the name change, the club also modified its popular and colorful logo.
The team crest now features the Wizards moniker in a geometric shape with the familiar soccer ball and rainbow trail still centered at the top. The team's primary colors remain Carolina blue and black.
The Wizards ushered in a new era in 2000, bringing in new General Manager Curt Johnson, assistant coaches Brian Bliss and Tim Mulqueen to join Bob Gansler's staff in his first full season and moving the team offices and training site to Arrowhead Stadium. The changes proved to be monumental as the team broke out to an amazing 10-0-2 start and finished the year winning the Supporters Shield and the 2000 MLS Cup Championship.
The team has returned to the postseason each year after winning their first Championship and nearly reached the MLS Cup again in 2003 before suffer ring a loss to the eventual Champion San Jose Earthquakes in overtime of the Western Conference Final.
A couple familiar faces returned to the Wizards in 2002 as Preki and Diego Gutierrez both returned to Kansas City and in 2003, U.S. National Team and World Cup veteran Josh Wolff was acquired in a trade. In 2004, the Wizards have added two former first round picks in Diego Walsh and Shavar Thomas along with the 4th overall pick in the 2004 SuperDraft Matt Taylor.
The addition of these young players, added to the veteran leadership of reigning MLS MVP and Scoring Champion Preki, MLS shutout leader Tony Meola and U.S. National Team players Josh Wolff, Chris Klein, Nick Garcia and Kerry Zavagnin should give the Wizards a favorable shot at returning to the MLS Cup Final in 2004.
Off the field, the Wizards will look to build on their MLS record five consecutive seasons of attendance growth. The Wizards set franchise records for season ticket sales in 2003 with 6,710 and an average attendance of 15,573. They also set single game attendance records twice last season with 22,403 fans on April 12th, then shattered that mark with a crowd of 30,308 on September 20th.