India forward Sunil Chhetri became the first Indian to play in the Major League Soccer (MLS) after he turned out for Kansas City Wizards, but the Wizards lost 1-2 to Colorado Rapids in the US Open Cup qualifying match.
According to information received in New Delhi, the 25-year-old Chhetri played the opening 45 minutes Tuesday and started in an advanced central midfield role supporting striker Josh Wolff at the Stanley H. Durwood Soccer Stadium on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC).
Chettri was disappointed with his performance.
"It was disappointing that we lost the match. I thought I had some good touches, but it's going to take some time, and I'm going to go back to the training field and train hard," he said on the club's website.
Wizards manager Peter Vermes said: “He was ok. He was good in possession, but he wasn’t getting close enough to the goal. We’ve got to figure out different ways to get him closer to the goal.”
Chettri made it to the 24-man roster after Hungarian forward Zlotan suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (knee) in the second half of the Wizards' game against AC St. Louis April 3. Chettri has performed well in the two practice matches scoring four goals, including a hattrick against the University of Evansville two weeks ago.
Chettri becomes the eighth Asian to play in MLS. He will also be the first Asian citizen to play for the Kansas City Wizards and the third Indian soccer player ever to ply his trade outside of his home nation.
Chettri becomes just the third Indian-born professional athlete currently in American professional team sports, with Pittsburgh Pirates minor-league pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel being the other two. NFL Linebacker Brandon Chillar of the Green Bay Packers and former NFL wide receiver Sanjay Beach are both of Indian descent as well.