- Date of BirthAugust 18, 1986
- HometownLongwood, Fla.
- ClubSporting Kansas City
- World CupCaps: 4 Goals: 0
- CareerCaps: 28 Goals: 3
He lists Zinedine Zidane and Sporting KC teammate Chance Myers as two of his favorite players
National TeamA 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 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.
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
2013 MLS All-Star
2012 MLS All-Star
2012 MLS Best XI
2011 MLS Breakout Player of the Year
Career Club History Map
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.
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
-Recorded the assist on John Brooks' game-winning goal in the 86th minute against Ghana in the first game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup
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
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 ... 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.