Monday, August 22, 2011

Who Is Graham Zusi?

Following a wonderful campaign thus far, midfielder Graham Zusi has been tossed into the MLS limelight. His powerful strikes from distance and his sensational work ethic has put him into the hearts of almost all Sporting Kc fans. And why wouldn't he? The 25 year old has been nothing short of a revelation this year. Following the likes of Matt Besler and Chance Myers, who even 2 years ago wouldn't be in contention for a starting spot. But now all three players have seen serious minutes this year in the blue shirt. But let's put the spotlight back on Zusi, who is this young man? He's appeared to seemingly climb out of the depths of the Sporting Kc "good-for-nothings" and into the "good-for-everythings".

Let's take a deeper look.

After having a stellar season at the University of Maryland Zusi was drafted 23rd overall in the 2009 SuperDraft. Which of course was also the year when Matt Besler and Yura Movsisyan were drafted. After playing 540 minutes for KC, (compared to Arnaud's 2,342 minutes), Graham Zusi has so far played 1,606 minutes this season. Tripling his minutes played in the previous season. Also, Graham has scored 5 goals and has assisted 4, most notably against FC Dallas and Portland Timbers. Following his good form, Zusi received the Player of the Month award for June, and a Player of the Week award this previous week.

Why He's So Good
In the 2010-11 season the transfers of Jack Jewsbury and Santiago Hirsig opened up a hole in the center of Sporting Kc's CM depth. Zusi saw his chance and has since never looked back. (It's worth noting Arnaud and Jeferson have been injured in this time-frame.)

Zusi's success is in his passing and quick-thinking. Two things that are essential for any CM/CAM on any team. But by far the most dangerous weapon in his Arsenal is his long range shot. When Zusi gets on the ball you can feel the whole stadium get excited, purely because they now what his 5'9 stature can unleash.

The Road Ahead
So what does Zusi need to do to keep up this amazing form? Stay ahead of Jeferson in the pecking order in terms of CAM. That's it. Everything else he already has. And it's worth saying that at 25 he probably won't develop much more as a player. The skills he has right now probably won't get any better. But on this team, and in this league, he's a god.

Zeus, the god of thunder.


  1. Great article! This guy is one of the hardest working players in the MLS. He wasn't really given the opportunity early in his MLS career as far as playing time, but has really lit up the field given the opportunity. I believe Graham's amazing vision and passing makes everyone around him better, not to mention that he has an amazing rip from distance. I think it is quite obvious that KC's drought at the beginning of the season stopped when Graham and Besler started to get some playing time. I think it is interesting how Jeferson is in the equation. Yes, of course he is a decent player; however, I watch every KC game and it is quite apparent that he does not have the same kind of impact that Zusi has on the midfield and Jeferson was quite disappointing when playing Real Salt Lake. Zusi is a perfect compliment to the hard-nosed Espinoza and I think Graham should have more of an attacking role rather than his defensive midfielder position. As of this moment, I believe that it would be ridiculous for Jeferson to start over Zusi. Zusi has worked too hard for too long for his position and I believed he earned it. We are on a hot streak and I don't think that Vermes should tinker with the lineup just b/c he thinks he has to prove his general managing skills by acquiring Jeferson. As an avid SKC fan I think we should RIDE THE ZUSI WAVE AND SEE WHERE IT TAKES US! GO SPORTING KC!!

  2. As with any team sport, you can't overemphasize the importance of any one player. However, if that player has the ability to improve the play of those surrounding him, than his/her importance is magnified. That is what Zusi does, and has on every team he has played on. As an unselfish and humble player he is always looking for the best options and his head up vision and technical ability allow him to manage and control the game expertly from the midfield. He always looks up before recieving the ball and always moves into a supporting position after sending a pass. Look at the stat links to see how much of the field he covers and how many touches he has. I agree that he should be in an attacking role to be most effective. Look at his history at Maryland and the success he had there even playing through some injuries. Two College Cup championships and scored the game winner in the semis and finals in 2008. He is capable of the making the big play or managing the game as a supporting player. Just let him do his thing and he will make you better.