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Vermes calls new Zusi deal a win-win for Sporting KC

Graham Zusi


Though it took many by surprise, Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi signing a contract extension on Friday had been in the works for a long time.

For his head coach Peter Vermes, Zusi signing on the dotted line couldn’t have come at a better time.

The 2011 MLS Breakout Player of the Year has not only continued his fine MLS Best XI form from last season to this year for his club, but he has also impressed for the U.S. Men’s National Team, providing width, accurate passing, and defense in the U.S. recent run of four wins in a row, three of them in World Cup qualifiers.

The 26-year-old Maryland product’s value is as high as it has ever been, and Vermes is glad that Zusi’s chosen to sign a new and improved deal, which sources tell SBI is a four-year deal with three guaranteed years.

“He’s a franchise player,” Vermes said on a media teleconference. “He’s a big player on our team, he’s one of the main guys on our team, he’s developed into not only a very good player for Sporting KC but one for our national team, and we feel that we want to try to retain the players that have come up within our team, and will continue to give us the kind of performance and product we want to put on our field.”

Zusi’s career path is one that many wouldn’t predict to make it to become one of the best in MLS and a regular on the USMNT. From an Orlando-area high school to the college soccer powerhouse of the University of Maryland, to becoming a second round draft pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, Zusi has overcome the odds at every level to succeed and improve year by year.

For all the success that Zusi has earned over the last 24 months, Vermes and the club believe that he’s receiving his just rewards.

“For (Sporting KC) philosophically, as players continue to develop and perform, we’re going to reward them,” Vermes said. “For (Zusi) it’s a win-win, because he knows that we’re not going to hold his feet to the fire if some club comes along that makes a very good offer and he’s interested in making a move.”

Vermes thinks that there is a clear reason for Zusi signing a new deal, and that’s his trust in the club. Whether it’s in terms of playing time in the present or future, knowing that he has the security of earning a larger salary, and perhaps more importantly, knowing that if a potential move abroad won’t be dismissed immediately.

“Graham is a player that obviously has demonstrated that he is committed to the club, not only by his play but by signing on a new extension,” Vermes said. “I think he also trusts us. If a deal does come through for Graham at some point in the term of his contract, we’re going to evaluate it on the merit of the deal, and work around that, working with the player, and making decisions that are best for everyone.”

With Zusi locked up for the near future, Vermes is satisfied that Sporting KC can move on to other players nearing the end of their deals, or potential targets this summer they’re interested in signing.

“It gives us the flexibility of knowing that we secured a guy that is very important to our team, and now we can move on to the next step,” Vermes said.


  1. Basically if a european team comes knocking, skc and zusi will get more money. As matter of fact, i see zusi as the next donovan of MLS, if he doesn’t leave MLS bur he will i believe. I also see zusi playing in spain or france, rather than england. As for soccer culture as discussed in other comments, we need top or more than average international coaches to come and work with american coaches and academies need to be 100% professional and serious, in order to recruit individuals at an early age as even 10 years old. If my local MLS team had an academy with education and great facilities and of course great academy coaches, i would definitely.send my boy.

  2. look at the Kamara loan. If a transfer comes along and he wants it KC will work with him. Zusi has the right mindset and that is to just keep playing, and getting as many minutes possible at the highest level training and games. He knows if he rides pine he won’t get any better, and as much as he seems a lock for Brazil, he isn’t a guaranteed starter. A good showing at the WC and his price is boosted. He won’t get the looks if he doesn’t get big minutes at the WC, and he wont start if he doesn’t get the reps at his club. He is getting DP money and the games. Smart move by him, SKC, and MLS, others on the WC cusp should follow his example if their contracts are expiring.

  3. At 26, no top European club is going to spend any serious money on him. Expect another Landon Donovan type loan that amounts to nothing. Not surprised he signed.

    • it’s really a shame there are no teams on the European continent except “top European club(s).” I personally think Zusi would do very well at a mid table French, German, or EPL club

      • I think that before the summer transfer window closes he’ll make a move to Europe. There’s no way that given his present form he won’t get a look by SOMEONE. Unfortunately for him he is an American so he won’t get any significant deals from a team unless he gets over there and proves it. That being said, I still think he’ll end up in the Championship at some point before 2014.

      • And, other than compensation, is he really better off at a mid-level French, German, or EPL club than at SKC?

      • Yes, because he’ll face much better competition within his own club and the rest of the teams in the league. MLS is better than the second division Ligue 2, Bundesliga and English Championship so the only thing he would gain out of moving to those leagues is money. But if he were able to be a regular for say Swansea City, Bordeaux or Hannover that would be better than his situation with SKC.

      • No mid table clubs will take him, he can’t help them. This is not MLS its the big leagues. He is not good enough.

    • + 1. Another player who’s missed out on a huge developmental opportunity. Going abroad is a must. Players just can’t peak in MLS. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

      • What came first: the chicken or the egg?

        I guess what I’m trying to say is, who is to say he would have developed the same or even faster abroad?

        Would he have even earned playing time? If so, how much?

      • Your metaphor is mixed and confused. It’s not a chicken and egg scenario. It’s simply an issue of getting to a culture where futbol is THE priority. There are so many things that are different in this vein that contribute to a player’s professional development. Then, the next issue is getting to the RIGHT club. Wrong club, and a player’s development goes nowhere in a hurry.

      • Are you suggesting American needs to make “futbol” THE priority over other sports?

        I’m sorry, that’s simply never going to happen.

        Did you play sports growing up? Elite athletes do not play one sport. Admittedly, specialization, personal coaches and traveling teams in all sports are becoming more common but elite athletes play two, if not three sports.

        To hope, believe or even suggest “futbol” becoming THE priority will ever be a realistic possibility is…how did you say? Mixed and confused.

        The problem with our country is our elite athletes gravitate towards other sports. Futbol is never going to be THE sport but it can become one of THE sports.

        Right now? It has a lot of work to do to retain all of the youth players as they transition into middle school and high school (when they usually lose the elite athletes).

      • To Old School,

        1.) No, not suggesting futbol become the # 1 sports in the USA.

        2.) Yes, I played pro futbol here and aborad.

        3.) Elite athletes do not necessarily play more than one sport. An a propos comment of yours in light of what I’m saying: in Europe and South America, future pro futbol athletes are identified and groomed from as early as 10 years old, a player’s budding futbol career becomes his entire focus. (They’re not running track in the spring, playin’ hockey in the winter, and editors of the yearbook staff, along with being the drama and chess clubs.)

        4.) The problem with the USA’s futbol culture is one of intellect, not athleticism necessarily. USA’s short on ideas and creativity. Take a look at Barcelona. Many of the “native” players are not necessarily specimens of athleticism like, say, Michael Jordan or Jerry Rice.

        Peace homey.

      • No, not suggesting futbol become the # 1 sports in the USA.

        “It’s simply an issue of getting to a culture where futbol is THE priority.”

        Seems like that’s exactly what you’re suggesting.

        Additionally, the rest of your post is comparing our structure to other countries which is a failed outlook to begin with. Their national sport or their second national sport is our 4th, 5th or 6th sport.

        I would agree that better structure could be in place but I think you’re incredibly wrong in overlooking the amount of talent that does leave the sport every single year.

        Structure would help retain that talent.

        ..and regarding “Michael Jordan/Jerry Rice”, that was your own opinion that “elite athlete” only means a specimen in that context. I would argue Xavi is an elite athlete, for what he does.

        Not everyone needs to be Bo Jackson to be considering an elite athlete.

      • Yeah his leap’s turned out to be a bummer. What’s the story? Injury? Problems with coach? Enjoys the nightlife too much?

      • I have to tell you, your comment’s so plainly stupid. It’s that typical straight-jacket American thinking that’s emblematic of the larger thick-brained futboling culture in the States. Really, do the world a favor: stop acting like a philistine and try to inject just a little dynamism into your thought. One player’s failure, doesn’t mean every player will fail. Jeesch.

      • Dude would you be just a little more open minded? Landon Donovan’s development happened in MLS, not with his stints in Europe. Europe may have better quality leagues, but its not for everyone.

        P.S. insulting everyone else’s intelligence isn’t going to impress anyone on this site.

      • Again, another exception to the rule so your logic is flawed deeply. Donovan is the exception to the rule. However, I’ll point out that, imagine if Donovan plied his trade at Everton full time, for sake of discussion, or another mid/upper level 1st division team abroad. The quality of play is enormously stronger than MLS. I think people are often too complacent about Donovan. He’s a very, very good player, speaking on the world stage. However he could have been an even better one had he played abroad.

      • He didn’t have the mentality to play abroad.

        Maybe you missed that memo.

        There’s more to becoming great than simply ability/training alone. If you don’t have the heart or head, ability will only take you so far.

        Donovan became the player he is because he came back to the States where he was comfortable.

      • Btw, I don’t comment to impress anyone. I’m here to inject some reality and informed insightfulness to American futboling fandom’s complacency and cultural isolation. This is where memes are generated.

    • That’s why he shouldn’t have signed the deal. He needed to be available relatively cheap if he was going to make the move. Thats why Stu and others who really want to play in Europe let their contracts run out. You have to sacrifice a few dollars short term to make the big bucks and play on the big stage.

      • Did you ever think “the big bucks” weren’t his top priority?

        Maybe he likes it in Kansas City. He is the man there, and that’s got to be a great feeling.

        If an offer comes his way, they will talk it over. But nobody thinks “the big bucks” are what this guy is looking for.

      • This. I am a big Zusi fan and he seems like a pretty humble, soft spoken guy, so he may choose to stay in MLS forever instead of playing in the top European leagues.

        While a move abroad may be beneficial to his playing abilities, I think he likes Kansas City too much. He may not want to leave a fan base that loves him so much, an organization that is great to him and his best friends (I know Matt Besler is his best friend and he has stated that he plans on staying at kc for his whole career).

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