US SoccerUS Soccer

Graham Zusi

Men's National Team
  • PositionMidfielder
  • Date of BirthAugust 18, 1986
  • Height5-10
  • Weight160
  • ClubSporting Kansas City
  • World CupCaps: 4 Goals: 0
  • CareerCaps: 28 Goals: 3
Did you know

He lists Zinedine Zidane and Sporting KC teammate Chance Myers as two of his favorite players

Playing History

National Team

A player who never landed on the U.S. youth team radar during his club and high school career, Zusi, similar to his Sporting teammate Matt Besler, is enjoying a meteoric rise with the USMNT 

Zusi made his first World Cup appearance against Ghana on June 16, 2014 in the U.S. MNT's first game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He started all four games for the U.S. in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and assisted two late, go-ahead goals in the first two games of the group stage. Zusi took the corner kick that led to John Brooks' 86th minute header that proved to be the game-winner against Ghana and also provided the cross that Clint Dempsey finished to put the U.S. up 2-1 in the 81st minute against Portugal. Zusi was in the starting lineup in the second game of the group stage in the World Cup against Portugal. He has appeared in 10 games for the U.S. in 2014, starting eight.

Zusi was part of January camp in 2014 that traveled to Brazil, playing 81 minutes in the USMNT’s 2-0 friendly win against Korea Republic at the StubHub Center.
Zusi made 12 appearances for the U.S. in 2013, both in starting roles and entering games off the bench in World Cup qualifying.  He scored his first goal in World Cup qualifying in 2013, the go-ahead and eventual winner in a 2-0 win over Jamaica on Oct. 11 at Sporting Park. Found the back of the net again in the 3-2 road win over Panama four days later that tied the game at 2-2 (more below on this).

After enjoying a breakout season in 2011 with Sporting KC, Zusi found himself invited to USMNT camp in January 2012 for the first time.  He went on to make his debut under Jurgen Klinsmann on January 21, 2012, playing 74 minutes in a friendly against Venezuela. Four days later, making just his second ever appearance for the USMNT, Zusi scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Panama.  Zusi’s third cap came in a friendly at the Azteca in August of that year. He entered as a 60th minute sub as the United States defeated El Tri 1-0 in Mexico City.  Zusi started his first World Cup qualifier on Sept. 11 against Jamaica, and was also a starter in qualifying wins against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala.

Youth National Teams

 Zusi never made an appearance with a youth national team


An All-Star in 2013, Zusi appeared in 27 matches (26 of them starts) and scored six goals along with eight assists. He also made three appearances in CONCACAF Champions League play, notching two assists in that competition. In the playoffs, made five starts and notched two assists as Sporting KC won MLS Cup on penalty kicks against Real Salt Lake.

Zusi set career highs in starts (31), minutes player (2,788) and adding 15 assists in 2012. He was a finalist for the 2012 MLS MVP award. He also played in 120 minutes in the 2012 U.S. Open Cup final, which Sporting KC won on penalties 3-2 against Seattle.

2011 marked Zusi’s breakout campaign with Sporting. He played in 32 games, starting 25 of them, scoring five goals and adding seven assists. He was named the 2011 MLS Breakout Player of the Year, and started and played in all three playoff games that year.

In 2010, he made 19 appearances, four them starts, and scored his first professional goal against the Philadelphia Union.

Picked 23rd overall in the second round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft by the Kansas City Wizards, Zusi played in 13 games his rookie season, making five starts. His pro debut came on March 21, 2009 against Toronto FC.  Zusi notched his first pro assist in the last game of the season that year, setting up Kei Kamara.

Youth clubs

A four year starter at the University of Maryland, Zusi won two national titles with the Terrapins (2005 and 2008). He scored the game-winning goal in the 2008 national semifinal and the championship game (at FC Dallas Stadium). In all, Zusi amassed 28 goals and 20 assists in 89 games (65 starts) in his college career.

A team captain for his high school team at Lake Brantley High School, Zusi was a decorated player at that level, named Central Florida Player of the Year by the Orlando Sentinal his junior year. He scored a total of 98 goals and 77 assists in his four-year career.

Zusi was also a member of the Region III ODP team

Honors earned

2013 MLS Best XI
2013 MLS All-Star 
2012 MLS All-Star
2012 MLS Best XI
2011 MLS Breakout Player of the Year

Career Club History Map

Personal Insights

Zusi’s  game-tying goal against Panama – which helped Mexico stay alive for an eventual World Cup spot – didn’t go unnoticed south of the border. Mexico fans even went as far as personally giving him gifts as a thank you for keeping them alive. 

Graham doesn’t spend much time thinking about the goal or what it meant to Mexico. Looking back, he was simply pushing to do his best as he would any other game. After Sporting’s CONCACAF match at Cruz Azul, several Mexico supporters did pull him aside to say thanks.

Along with MNT World Cup teammate Matt Besler, he entered MLS in 2009. Besler lived at home with his parents and Zusi in their basement when both were rookies, and they were roommates for three years. They once went to an animal shelter and adopted different dogs together.  The parallels between the two club teammates run deep, from being roommates (at Besler’s parent’s house), to their similar rise onto the national team – Besler’s taking place in 2013 and Zusi’s in 2012. Both played four years of college soccer at prominent programs that lined up against each other at the 2013 College Cup.

His gameday ritual includes breakfast at Simply Breakfast (local restaurant) with chocolate chip pancakes, breakfast potatoes, turkey sausage and a gallon of water.

Is regarded as an example of American players benefitting from staying around in MLS after he signed an extension in 2013. He had trained with West Ham during the offseason in January of that year, and thought it better to stay with a club like KC ahead of the 2014 World Cup. Growing up, Zusi was a multi-sport athlete, playing soccer, lacrosse, tennis and basketball. In high school, he focused on soccer and lacrosse, eventually going the soccer route in high school as it was his best sport. However, he didn’t really think that becoming a pro soccer player was a possibility until his senior year at Maryland.

A criminology major at Maryland, in an interview mentioned the possibility of a CIA career after his playing days, or perhaps a path he would’ve taken had soccer not worked out. 

In his free time, Zusi enjoys hiking and camping, with a preference in going to Utah. He listens to all types of music, especially indie rock. As of last summer, his favorite band was Black Keys and his favorite song Little Black Submarines.

National Teams

The speedy, skillful winger brings savvy and energy to the U.S. midfield. Those talents were on display at the 2014 FIFA World Cup where he played in all four of the USA’s matches and recorded two assists. The Orlando native had a breakout year both internationally and professionally in 2013, earning career marks for the U.S. MNT during qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and leading Sporting Kansas City to the 2013 MLS Cup crown. In his second full year with the Men’s National Team, Zusi doubled his previous marks in games played, goals and assists. He scored a thrilling stoppage-time goal during the USA’s 3-2 victory against Panama on Oct. 15, 2013, to cap off the USA’s first-place finish in the Hexagonal.  The three-time MLS All-Star is a key driver of the success of Sporting Kansas City.



• Recorded two assists in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, including the corner kick delivery on the game-winning goal by John Brooks in the 86th minute of the 2-1 win against Ghana.

• Scored the game-tying, stoppage-time goal during the USA’s 3-2 victory against Panama on Oct. 15, 2013, ending Panama’s hopes for qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

• Named a 2013 MLS All-Star, Sporting Kansas City team MVP and team Offensive Player of the Year after tallying six goals and eight assists in 27 games, leading Sporting to the 2013 MLS Cup crown

• Notched his first international goal on Jan. 25, 2012, vs. Panama just four days after receiving his first cap on Jan. 21, 2012, against Venezuela

• The only MLS player to register at least five goals and at least seven assists in each of the last four seasons.

2015: Named to the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup roster... 2014: Started three of four matches in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, logging 257 minutes in four games … His corner kick delivery set up the game-winning goal against Ghana on June 16 against Ghana … Clipped a cross in from the left that Clint Dempsey re-directed him to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead in the 81st minute against Portugal on June 22 in Manaus … Another well-placed corner teed up Michael Bradley for the game’s  first goal in the 2-2 draw against Mexico on April 2 in Glendale, Ariz … Made a total of 10 appearances, including eight starts … 2013: In his second year with the U.S. MNT, Zusi recorded career highs in games (12), starts (9), goals (2) and assists (2) … Assisted Jozy Altidore’s 13th-minute goal during the USA’s 4-3 win against second-ranked Germany on June 2. The game was the USA’s Centennial Celebration match at RFK Stadium … Scored the game-tying, stoppage-time goal during the U.S. MNT’s 3-2 win against Panama on Oct. 15 to cap off the first-place Hexagonal run with 22 points … 2012: Zusi was invited to U.S. MNT’s 2012 January camp in preparation for two friendlies against Venezuela and Panama … He went on to start both matches and scored the lone goal in the win against Panama … He played 71 minutes in a 1-0 win against Jamaica in 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying … Came on in the 60th minute of the 2-1 win against Mexico on Aug. 15 ... Made three appearances in World Cup qualifiers … First Appearance: Jan. 21, 2012, vs. Venezuela … First Goal: Jan. 25, 2012, vs. Panama.

2014: Named Sporting KC's 2014 Co-MVP ... Appeared in 24 matches, 23 of them starts, with five goals and eight assists … Started and played 45 minutes in the MLS All-Star Game on Aug. 6 as the MLS All-Stars defeated Bayern Munich 2-1 in Portland …  2013: Zusi earned a selection as a 2013 MLS All-Star and was Sporting Kansas City’s team MVP and Offensive Player of the Year after scoring six goals and assisting eight others in 27 games for the 2013 MLS Cup winner … Notched the game-winning goal during a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Fire on July 7. The tally was voted MLS Goal of the Week … Featured in three of Sporting’s four 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League group matches, recording two assists … 2012: After earning MLS Breakout Player of the Year for his performance during the 2011 MLS season, Zusi wasted no time living up to the honor in 2012 … Zusi notched six assists and a goal in the first six games of the 2012 regular season … Zusi led Sporting Kansas City and MLS in assists with 15, the third-most assists in a single season in Kansas City’s club history … Zusi’s league-leading five game-winning assists in 2012 match the single-season club record … Zusi led the league in corner kicks with 150, most by a Sporting Kansas City player in club history and third-most in MLS history behind Brad Davis (172 in 2011) and Marco Etcheverry (198 in 1998) … Zusi was named a 2012 MLS All-Star … 2011: Secured a starting place and clocked 2,329 minutes in 32 games for Sporting Kansas City … Notched five goals and seven assists, a team high, and played in all three playoff games for Sporting, including the Eastern Conference Final … Recorded game-winning assists in three straight matches in June and was named MLS Player of the Month … Scored twice in 3-1 win against Portland on Aug. 17, his second multi-goal game of the season, was named MLS Player of the Week and earned the MLS Goal of the Week for his distance strike in the same match … He was named to the MLS Team of the Week for Week 31 … Provided both assists to the 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids in the second leg of the playoffs on Nov. 2 … 2010: Made 19 appearances in his second year with the club, starting four games … He scored his first professional goal against the expansion Philadelphia Union on June 10 … Also entered as a second-half substitute in Kansas City’s 2-1 win against Manchester United during a summer friendly and started in U.S. Open Cup play-in match against Colorado … 2009: Selected 23rd overall in the second round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft … Made 13 appearances as a rookie, starting five games … Recorded his first MLS assist in the last game of the season as he fed Kei Kamara for the team’s first goal against D.C. United.


Played four seasons at the University of Maryland, accruing appearances in 89 games (65 starts) and recording 28 goals and 20 assists during his college career ... Helped Maryland win the National Championship in 2005 and 2008, scoring the game-winning goal in the 2008 National Semi-Final and Championship Games … Named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player in the 2008 College Cup.

Has two younger sisters and one older brother who all play soccer … In his free time, Zusi enjoys spending time with his family and doing outdoor activities, such as hiking and camping … Listens to all types of music, especially indie rock … One of Zusi’s all-time favorite movies is Tommy Boy … Lists Zinedine Zidane and Chance Myers has his favorite soccer players, and enjoys watching Liverpool FC … Gameday traditions include breakfast at Simply Breakfast with chocolate chip pancakes, breakfast potatoes, turkey sausage and a gallon of water … Lists his top soccer memories as winning the College Cup with Maryland, playing in the opening match of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park and scoring for the U.S. Men’s National Team.