Former Wizard Klein likes Kansas City rebrand

Retired Galaxy midfielder thinks Sporting will connect with KC

CARSON, Calif. – For eight years, Chris Klein battled and bled for the Kansas City Wizards. While he went on to play for both Real Salt Lake and the Los Angeles Galaxy, the now-retired Klein made a name for himself as a Wizard.

That name, though, has now vanished. The Kansas City Wizards rebranded as Sporting Kansas City last week and introduced a new logo and color scheme. Having given so much of himself to the Wizards, how did Klein react to the name change?

“I like it,” Klein said. “I like the more traditional names and I think that’s original in a sense. I think they will, but I hope that they embody all that they’re trying to say with the name change and with the new stadium and with the direction that they’re trying to take their team.”

Klein was the fourth overall selection in the 1998 draft and broke through in his second season, scoring six goals and adding five assists. In 2000, Klein had six goals and eight assists as the Wizards won their only MLS Cup, beating Chicago 1-0 at RFK Stadium.

Before the 2006 season and what would have been his ninth year with the Kansas City, Klein was dealt to expansion side Real Salt Lake, where he spent about 18 months before RSL shipped him off to the Los Angeles Galaxy for Nathan Sturgis and Robbie Findley.

Klein, though, had his finest seasons with the Wizards, scoring 39 goals and 45 assists. He also played three years alongside current coach, Peter Vermes.

The change in Klein’s former club is fairly drastic. Not only did the club drop Wizards in favor or Sporting Kansas City but the team will also move into a new stadium, abandoning CommunityAmerica Ballpark in favor of their new digs, a yet-to-be-named stadium which will open June 9.

The name change and new stadium alone won’t bring out supporters, Klein said.

“You’ve seen the community start to rally more around the team,” he said. “With Kansas City, it’s more about the product on the field. If that team is winning, more people are going to come. The stadium and where it is will definitely add to that.”

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