The Kansas City Wizards announced today that the team will not be renewing the contract of Argentine midfielder Claudio Lopez. The team had been in negotiations with Lopez throughout the preseason.
"We would have liked to have Claudio back in 2010, but unfortunately it became clear early in the contract negotiations that we could not give him what he desired," Wizards Manager Peter Vermes said.
"We thank Claudio for his two years of service here in Kansas City. He was a consummate professional and set a good example for the young players on our team both on and off the field. Looking forward to 2010, we are confident in the players we have in camp and there will be great competition for starting spots before our home opener on March 27th.""
Considered to be one of the most skillful Argentines of his generation, Lopez played for two years with the Wizards, signing on in 2008 as the team's first designated player. He put up consistent numbers in both of his Kansas City campaigns, recording six goals and seven assists in 2008 and seven goals and eight assists in 2009. However, Lopez will be remembered by Wizards fans for scoring one of the most memorable goals in the history of the organization last season against the Los Angeles Galaxy. With a sell-out crowd at CommunityAmerica Ballpark and a national television audience on ESPN, Lopez collected an innocuous-looking clearance at half field, took a touch and lofted an inch-perfect shot over Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to give Kansas City the lead. The strike from 60 yards out also went down as the longest goal in Wizards history.
Before joining the Wizards, Lopez enjoyed a successful career abroad, having starred for Racing in his native Argentina before moving to Valencia in Spain in 1996. Lopez enjoyed his most prolific period with the Spanish side, making 123 appearances with 42 goals in five years with the club. Lopez led the team to a Champions League runner-up spot in 2000 and also won the Spanish Super Cup and the Copa del Rey in 1999. In 2000, Lopez was transferred to Italian Serie A side Lazio for $44 million - the third-highest transfer fee of that year and one of the top 50 most expensive transfers of all time. With Lazio, Lopez scored 28 goals in 105 appearances before moving on to Club America, one of the most successful clubs in Mexico, in 2004.
Lopez is notable for being the second player in the history of the Kansas City Wizards to have scored in a World Cup, having scored in the 1998 quarterfinals against the Netherlands. He was also named to Argentina's squad for the 2002 World Cup. In all, Lopez earned 58 caps with Argentina's national team, scoring 10 goals.