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Graham Zusi

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Graham Zusi

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

Professional


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

MNT Players in Club Action Across the Globe and the Airwaves this Weekend

With the USMNT’s March friendlies against Denmark (March 25, ESPN2, WatchESPN, UniMás, UDN) and Switzerland (March 31, FOX Sports 1, UniMás, UDN) quickly approaching, time is running out for the players to convince the coaching staff they should be included for the matches that start the honing process for the all-important 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer. The staff will have plenty of opportunity to watch the player pool in action this weekend – and so will fans!

Check out all the MNT players in action with their clubs across the globe (All TV times ET):

FRIDAY
The spotlight is on the kickoff of the 20th season of Major League Soccer when the 2014 defending champion LA Galaxy hosts the Chicago Fire. World Cup vet Omar Gonzalez stands at one end with MNT neophyte Gyassi Zardes as the pair stare down Fire ‘keeper Sean Johnson at the other. (10 p.m., UniMas)

SATURDAY
The FA Cup quarterfinals kick off with a trip to famed Wembley Stadium on offer in one of the oldest and most prestigious cup competitions in the world. Brad Guzan and Aston Villa host West Bromwich Albion in the first leg (12:30 p.m., FOX Soccer Plus). In another final eight matchup, Reading midfielder Danny Williams continues his resurgence as the Royals head to League One side Bradford City (7:45 a.m., FS1). In the only Premier League match of the weekend, DeAndre Yedlin’s Spurs travel to QPR with a huge opportunity to pick up points in the race to reach European competition next season (10 a.m., NBCSN).

In Germany, Fabian Johnson is fresh off scoring his first goal of the campaign and Borussia Moenchengladbach travel to Mainz looking to keep their hold on third place in the Bundesliga table (12:30 p.m., GolTV).

South of the border, Club Tijuana look to maintain their lead at the top of the Liga MX Torneo Clausura after going 6-1-1 in the first eight matches. Joe Corona hopes to continue to earn minutes after recovering from injury, while Greg Garza will be kept out as a precaution after a minor hip injury on the weekend. Meantime, defender Michael Orozco has started all eight games for Puebla and has helped his side to fourth place as they travel to Chiapas (10 p.m., UDN).

MLS has a host of matches available on DIRECT KICK/MLS LIVE, led by the debut of Jozy Altidore alongside MNT compatriot Michael Bradley at Toronto FC when they square off against cross-coast Canadian rivals Vancouver Whitecaps (6 p.m.). Check local listings for the full MLS schedule.

SUNDAY
Last things first – the U.S. Under-17 MNT has a chance to book their ticket to the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Currently sporting a 3-0-0 record at the top of Group A in CONCACAF Qualifying, a win against host Honduras would guarantee advancement to this fall’s tournament in Chile (FOX Soccer Plus, 10 p.m.).

The big draw will be the debut of the newest additions to MLS, with 60,000 plus packing the Citrus Bowl to watch Orlando City FC hosts NYCFC. Brek Shea is hoping for a jumpstart to his career wearing the purple of the Lions, while Mix Diskerud kicks off his domestic professional career with the Big Apple’s newest MLS entrant NYCFC (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, 5 p.m.). Matt Besler will marshal the backline and Graham Zusi appears to be ready to go when Sporting Kansas City hosts the new look New York Red Bulls (FS1, 7 p.m.), while MLS Cup finalists New England Revolution will be without their MNT contingent in Seattle as Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen are still sidelined for the opener against U.S. captain Clint Dempsey, MNT defender Brad Evans and Sounders FC (FS1, FOX Deportes, 9:30 p.m.). 

WHAT ELSE TO CHECK OUT …
Alejandro Bedoya returns from the infirmary to join his Nantes teammates when they meet Stade de Reims, who hover three points above the relegation zone … Jonathan Spector’s Birmingham City side have surpassed their point total from last season, and hope to climb into the top half of the table against Midlands rival Derby …  It could be young versus younger in Holland when Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar travel to face Rubio Rubin and FC Utrecht on Sunday … Finally, Eintracht Frankfurt’s starting right back Timmy Chandler gets an early look at the RheinEnergieSTADION in Cologne, which will host USA-Germany on June 5. 

Klinsmann Reflects on October Friendlies

ussoccer.com: Overall, what did you take away from these October friendlies?

Jurgen Klinsmann: “Looking at both games, it was for us really of high value to see how guys are going in their personal curves. We saw a lot of good stuff. For example, we saw Greg Garza trying to establish himself as a real alternative as a left back. We saw another step for Mix Diskerud growing and becoming a bit more dominant in his own game. We are thrilled that Jozy scored and got back on track in his own personal difficult moment because of his club situation. We tried to figure out if Jermaine Jones is a real alternative at center back, which he proved right away. Timmy Chandler got valuable minutes, and we saw a lot of the things we wanted to see from younger players. 

“Obviously when you play friendly games, you want to win those games.  From that point of view, it’s a little bit disappointing because in both games we had late equalizers from our opponents. You want to put those games away and score the second goal before they have a chance to equalize. Overall, two very valuable experiences. It gave us a lot of answers to certain questions about players, so there was a lot of progress.”

ussoccer.com: Going in you said that you wanted to see how the chemistry developed between the veteran players and some of the younger faces in the team. How did that process go?

JK: “I think that mixing it up now with more experienced guys and the guys breaking through, you want to see the dynamic that older players become mentors and leaders, and help the guys grow and push them in a certain way. At the same time, you want to develop a new kind of hierarchy of the team going forward. That’s the message to the younger players – you have to go in there and be confident, have the right body language and be aggressive and make your point. If you look at Alfredo Morales for example, he’s right on the edge now of breaking in there. Obviously DeAndre Yedlin is trying to get his foot in the door even stronger. That’s the only way we can see how far they are in that process, and guys like Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey and Graham Zusi have to help them in that process.”

ussoccer.com: Is giving up two late equalizers in these games just part of the growing process, or do you see this as a concern?

JK: “Giving the results away in the final minutes in both games tells you that we struggle at the moment to go through the 90 minutes physically. We already saw that in the game against Czech Republic. We were a little bit lucky with an amazing Nick Rimando in that game to get the 1-0 win, and now against Ecuador and Honduras they punished us for dropping the physical level in the final 15-20 minutes. This is definitely something we have to address and definitely something of concern. Therefore, it’s a topic that we will talk the players through. We have to be able to go 90 minutes at the high tempo and put the result away. We should have scored a second goal against Honduras early on and put the game away and they wouldn’t have come back. They deserved the equalizer because they had their chances.”

ussoccer.com: What were you hoping to accomplish by putting Jermaine Jones at center back?

JK: “With the experiment of putting Jermaine Jones into the right center back position, we wanted to see how he leads the backline. We wanted to see how disciplined he stayed in that role, because it’s in his nature, he always wants to go forward and join the attack. We wanted to see how verbal he is with other guys around him, and how he can shift the whole back line higher up. I think that experiment really went well. Knowing now that we can always put Jermaine Jones in a center back role - if he is disciplined, if he is pushing us up, if he is vocal - is a huge plus coming out of that Honduras game.”

ussoccer.com: Does having Jermaine as an option at center back open up opportunities for different players in the midfield?

JK: “When you shift a position and put Jermaine Jones from a number eight to a four or five, obviously that opens up another possibility for you in midfield.  It gives you an opportunity to break in another youngster and get him more playing time and a chance to be more consistent in what he’s doing. In this case it was Mix Diskerud, and Mix proved that in both games that he becomes more consistent, more physical, and stronger. We want him to go into one on one challenges and he did that. For us, it was a win-win in both positions.”

ussoccer.com: With the absence of Fabian Johnson, you were able to get time for Timmy Chandler at right back. Were you pleased with his performances?

JK: “With the National Team program it always happens that if someone can’t make it for whatever reason, it opens the possibility for someone else to step in.  Not having Fabian Johnson, who played a fantastic World Cup, in that roster gave the chance for us to see Timmy Chandler in the right back position, which he plays for Eintracht Frankfurt. At the same time, it gave Greg Garza the chance to play left back in both games. This was huge, because it gives them the confidence and the possibility to prove their point and become consistent in our environment. For both players it was huge, and they both played on a very good level. They were focused and played the role way we expect a fullback to play, meaning defense comes first. Cover your side, win your battles one against one, and then go when there is the opportunity go forward as well. They were very disciplined in doing that. It was a bummer not having Fabian Johnson there, but at the same time it was good to give these guys a full run, and I think both Chandler and Garza used that chance to their benefit.”

ussoccer.com: You have asked Alejandro Bedoya to have more of a leadership role, and you have now used him both centrally and as a winger. How do you see that developing?

JK: Having seen Alejandro Bedoya in a more central role is really just another step in the right direction for his own personal development. He plays more of a central role at Nantes; he’s not a winger there. Can he play as a winger? Yes, which he did for us against Honduras.  It’s great to see his growth of how he connects between the defensive line and the forwards.  I think he can develop into a real box to box player similar to what Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones can do.  For us it’s important to have these options on the table that we know we can bring him in from the outside to the inside, and develop some more traditional wingers like a DeAndre Yedlin who maybe becomes a winger over time, or other players in that role. For Alejandro, it was another step in the right direction and for him crucial for him to become more of a center piece for the National Team.”

ussoccer.com: As has been the case many times in your tenure, another player earned his first cap for the Senior National Team. How did Miguel Ibarra fare in his first camp?

JK: “We had the chance to bring in Miguel Ibarra from Minnesota United, and I think it was a very interesting 10 days for him. In the beginning he was a bit nervous, but he calmed down after two or three days and he was very consistent and very proactive in the way he participated in everything we did in training. So when he was able to get on the field against Honduras, even just for a couple of minutes, we just gave him the message to play the way he’s used to playing.

“He tried to fit right in, and I think this is very encouraging. It’s a message to many players out there that no matter what path you decide to go on, there is always a chance to come to the National Team program and to learn.  For Miguel it was a huge step forward. We told him to take this confidence back to his club team and keep growing. Going forward, I think he has a huge chance to come back into our program.”

Photo Gallery: #USAvHON - Oct. 14, 2014

Photos from the U.S. MNT's 1-1 friendly draw with Honduras at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla., on Oct. 14, 2014.

Photo Gallery: MNT Boca Raton Training

Photos from the U.S. MNT training session on Monday, Oct. 13, in Boca Raton, Florida. The USA is set to play Honduras in an international friendly at FAU Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014.

Zusi had a breakout year both internationally and professionally, 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.

  • Started all four games for the U.S. in the 2014 FIFA World Cup
  • Assisted two late, go-ahead goals in the first two games of the group stage in the 2014 FIFA World Cup; 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
  • 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. The USA finished atop the Hexagonal with 22 points
  • 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 goal on Jan. 25, 2012, vs. Panama just four days after receiving his first cap on Jan. 21, 2012, against Venezuela
  • Led all of Major League Soccer with 15 assists in 2012, the third highest mark in Kansas City club history
  • Helped Sporting capture the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, notching a goal and assist in semifinal victory over the Philadelphia Union
  • Selected to the MLS All-Star game in 2012 and logged 33 minutes in the 3-2 win against Chelsea
  • Won the 2005 and 2008 College Cups during his college career at maryland and scored the game-winning goal in both the 2008 semi-final and national championship games
2014: Started all four games for the U.S. in the 2014 FIFA World Cup ... Assisted two late, go-ahead goals in the first two games of the group stage in the 2014 FIFA World Cup; 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 ... In the starting lineup in the second game of the group stage in the 2014 FIFA World Cup against Portugal ... Has appeared in 10 games for the U.S. in 2014, starting eight ... 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 preperation 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 Jamacia in 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifing ... Came on in teh 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
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 notime living up to the honor in 2012 ... Zusi notched six assists and a goal in teh 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 and third-most in MLS behind brad davis (172 in 2011) and Maco 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 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 teh second leg of the playoffs on Nov. 2 ... 2010: Made 19 apperances in his second year with the club, starting four games ... he scored his first professional goal against teh expansion Philadelphia Union on June 10 .. Also entered as a secon-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 apperances 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.

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 hicking and camping ... One of Zusi's all-time favorite movies is Tommy Boy ... Lists Zinedine Zidane and Chance Myers as 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.

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