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Sporting KC re-signs seven-time MLS All-Star Graham Zusi

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Sporting Kansas City announced today that the club has re-signed defender and seven-time MLS All-Star Graham Zusi to a one-year contract for the 2022 MLS season with an option for 2023.

One of the most accomplished players in club history, Zusi has spent his entire 13-year professional career at Sporting and won four major championships in Kansas City—the 2013 MLS Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles in 2012, 2015 and 2017. The 35-year-old joined Sporting out of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and has since become the longest-tenured player with one team in MLS history, helping the club to 10 playoff appearances since 2011 as one of the league’s premier players.

Zusi is Sporting’s all-time appearance leader with 373 matches played in all competitions, including 320 in the MLS regular season and 20 in the MLS Cup Playoffs. He also ranks second on the club’s all-time charts in assists (87), minutes (29,980) and starts (327) while placing 10th in goals (33). The versatile veteran—who has transitioned from central midfielder to winger to right back during his tenure in Kansas City—was selected to the MLS Best XI in 2012 and 2013 after being named the 2011 MLS Breakout Player of the Year. Additionally, his club-record seven All-Star selections from 2012-2019 were the most in MLS during that time. 

On the international stage, Zusi amassed five goals and seven assists in 55 appearances for the United States Men’s National Team from 2012-2017. He appeared in all four matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup as a wide midfielder, tallying two assists, before representing his country at the 2015 and 2017 Concacaf Gold Cups, winning the latter as a right back.

Zusi started 26 of 28 MLS matches in 2021, becoming the all-time leader for most regular season appearances among one-club players in MLS history. He recorded five assists during the regular season for a side that led the Western Conference with 58 goals and finished three points out of first place. In a 3-1 home win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Nov. 20, Zusi opened his MLS postseason scoring account with a stunning 30-yard strike and extended a club record with his seventh career playoff assist.

The 2021 campaign also saw Zusi become the ninth player in MLS history to eclipse 25,000 regular season minutes with one club and the 12th active player with 100 combined goals (29) and assists (71) in regular season play. He finished the year with 28 successful crosses, eighth-most in MLS, and placed third on the team with 34 chances created.

Zusi began his Kansas City tenure in 2009 and flourished in his third professional season with five goals and seven assists as the 2011 MLS Breakout Player of the Year. He reached new heights in 2012, breaking into the U.S. Men’s National Team and landing MLS Best XI honors with seven goals and 17 assists in all competitions for a Sporting side that won the U.S. Open Cup with a shootout win over Seattle Sounders FC at Children’s Mercy Park. In 2013, Zusi repeated his MLS Best XI feat—and earned his second straight Sporting KC team MVP award—with six goals and 12 assists during a banner campaign in which Sporting ousted Real Salt Lake to win the MLS Cup on home soil.

Zusi would play an integral role for the U.S. MNT over the next three years, assisting two goals at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, featuring in all five matches in the 2016 Copa America Centenario and helping the Americans to the 2017 Gold Cup title. During that time, he remained an ever-present fixture for a Sporting side that captured the U.S. Open Cup title in 2015 and 2017 and consistently competed at the top of the Western Conference.

After moving into his current right back role in 2017, Zusi played every minute of the 2018 MLS season, tallying two goals and seven assists as Sporting finished first in the West and advance to the conference finals. In 2020, he helped the club to its fourth first-place conference finish in 10 seasons.

Zusi would play an integral role for the U.S. MNT over the next three years, assisting two goals at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, featuring in all five matches in the 2016 Copa America Centenario and helping the Americans to the 2017 Gold Cup title. During that time, he remained an ever-present fixture for a Sporting side that captured the U.S. Open Cup title in 2015 and 2017 and consistently competed at the top of the Western Conference.

After moving into his current right back role in 2017, Zusi played every minute of the 2018 MLS season, tallying two goals and seven assists as Sporting finished first in the West and advance to the conference finals. In 2020, he helped the club to its fourth first-place conference finish in 10 seasons. 

Away from the soccer field, Zusi has participated in numerous philanthropic events and embraced a leading role for The Victory Project, Sporting ’s charitable arm that helps children and families affected by cancer and all of life’s challenges. In addition to making virtual and in-person visits to Children’s Mercy Hospital to interact and play games with patients, the former Neal and Jeanne Patterson Humanitarian of the Year has led the following Victory Project initiatives: Yoga on the Pitch at Children’s Mercy Park, Sporting KC Day at the Kansas City Zoo, the Sporting Invitational golf tournament at Loch Lloyd Country Club and Celebrity Bartending at No Other Pub. He has also appeared regularly in the Braden’s Hope Calendar.

For a full list of Sporting’s offseason roster moves, visit SportingKC.com/news/tracker. Sporting will train in Arizona from Jan. 17 to Feb. 19 for the team’s 2022 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy. Manager Peter Vermes’ side will then kick off the MLS season on Feb. 27, visiting Atlanta United FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, before hosting Houston Dynamo FC in a highly anticipated Children’s Mercy Park home opener on March 5.

Season tickets for Sporting Kansas City’s 2022 campaign and several 2022 ticket packages and promotions and are available by calling 888-4KC-GOAL or visiting SportingKC.com.

Transaction: Sporting Kansas City (MLS) re-signs defender Graham Zusi to a one-year contract for the 2022 MLS season with an option for 2023.

VITALS
Graham Zusi
Position: Defender
Number: 8
Born: 8/17/1986
Height: 5-10
Weight: 161 lbs.
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Birthplace: Longwood, Florida
Citizenship: USA
College: Maryland
Twitter: @gzusi
Instagram: @gzusi





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Toronto FC’s GoalMachine takes home eMLS League Series One title

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It was a historic performance for the Toronto man, who just signed as the Reds’ eMLS representative in December and was making his debut appearance on the circuit. With the victory, he delivered Toronto FC’s first eMLS final appearance and championship in club history.

He got everything he could handle in the final from PauloNeto999, who had a 3-2 aggregate lead in the 88th minute of the second leg, only to see GoalMachine strike for a clutch late equalizer to force extra time.





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Lion Links: 1/16/22 – The Mane Land

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Hello, Mane Landers! This week kept The Mane Land staff team busy with breaking news, which must indicate the opening of Orlando City’s preseason camp is right around the corner. Tuesday, to be exact. Let’s head to the links!

Pato Returns to Orlando City

Orlando City announced Saturday morning the re-signing of center forward Alexandre Pato to a one-year deal. The Lions’ front office does not include financial terms when it announces transactions. However, multiple outlets reported the deal mostly consists of performance incentives. Pato was injured in the first game of last season and ultimately appeared in only four regular season matches and the Lions’ lone playoff game in Nashville. The accomplished Brazilian striker, if he can stay healthy, and Tesho Akindele are expected to provide goal-scoring depth behind whomever is acquired to succeed Daryl Dike up top. We’re going to sign more guys, right?

Moments after the club announced the return of Pato, which means “duck” in Portuguese, the Lions’ assistant general manager and technical director Ricardo Moreira tweeted perhaps the catchiest celebration of the news. LDG!

Pato shared an announcement video in which he promised “2022 will be better than the last one.”

Lions Announce 2022 Preseason Schedule

The Lions will face five MLS sides and Florida’s two USL Championship clubs in preseason action. All seven matches will be played behind closed doors. The preseason opener is Jan. 23 against an MLS club not yet named. Orlando City will also play Minnesota United, FC Dallas, and the Colorado Rapids. The Lions will battle the USL’s Miami FC, which is now led by former Orlando City B head coach Anthony Pulis. The Welshman played for Orlando City from 2012-2014 when it competed in USL Pro. The Lions and the Tampa Bay Rowdies square off on Feb. 19 to close out the schedule. Even though it’s a preseason match and the two teams compete in different tiers, is it still considered an I-4 derby? I think so.

Weston McKinnie Is On Fire

Juventus and U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Weston McKennie is the hottest American player in the world right now. McKennie headed in Juve’s second goal in its 2-0 triumph over Udinese yesterday, and he has now netted eight goals in 50 Serie A competitions. Yesterday’s goal followed one he scored in Juve’s Italian Supercoppa loss to Inter Milan on Wednesday. The American continues to improve on the pitch and that bodes well for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it prepares to resume Concacaf World Cup qualifiying later this month.

Reports: Che & Bassett to Europe; Arriola to Mexico City

MLSSoccer.com’s Transfer Tracker shared reports that two young MLS players will soon be loaned to European clubs for 18 months with options to buy. FC Dallas will reportedly send Homegrown defender Justin Che to the Bundesliga’s Hoffenheim and the Colorado Rapids will ship USMNT midfielder Cole Bassett to Eredivisie club Feyenoord. Club America is also expected to bring D.C. United and USMNT winger Paul Arriola back to Liga MX.

Man City Downs Chelsea, Coutinho Scores in Aston Villa Debut

A dazzling strike from Kevin De Bruyne lifted Manchester City over Chelsea yesterday to extend the Cityzens’ Premier League lead to 13 points. A close three-team battle for the Premier League crown is looking less likely.

Philippe Coutinho introduced himself to the Villa Park faithful with a game-tying goal after coming on as a substitute in Aston Villa’s come-from-behind 2-2 draw with Manchester United.

Free Kicks

Thanks for visiting, Mane Landers. Enjoy this week’s scenes from preseason camp.



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Inter Miami CF sign Jamaica international defender Damion Lowe

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TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Signing

The 28-year-old joins Inter Miami through the 2023 MLS season with a club option for 2024.

“Damion is a capable center back who has proven himself at the international level for Jamaica and we’re happy to welcome him at Inter Miami,” chief soccer officer and sporting director Chris Henderson said in a release. “I’ve known Damion for a long time and I’m sure he’ll welcome this challenge to break into MLS while helping us achieve our objectives. We’re looking forward to continuing to solidify our backline with this signing.”





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