Zusi signs new contract with Sporting KC

GrahamZusiBestXI (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

After some stellar performances with the U.S. Men’s National Team, Graham Zusi might have had some teams preparing offers overseas. However, Sporting Kansas City CEO Robb Heineman wasn’t ready to see his star midfielder leave.

Sporting KC announced on Friday morning that Zusi has signed a new contract with the club. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The deal marks the second straight year Zusi has signed a new deal with the club.

“The club is very happy to have come to an agreement with Graham (Zusi),” said Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes. “He will continue to be an important part of our future and a vital and versatile fixture within our team.”

Zusi has continued to impress for both club and country since earning MLS Breakout Player of the Year in 2011. Last season, the 26-year-old recorded a career-high 15 assists, proving to be one of the top playmakers in the league.

So far this season, Zusi has scored three goals and assisted on five others in 14 games started, as well as starting four of the five matches this past month for the USMNT, assisting on Jozy Altidore’s opener against Jamaica.

Re-signing Zusi means Sporting KC has secured new contracts for their top two players, having re-signed U.S. Men’s National Team defender Matt Besler last winter.

Zusi has been with Sporting KC since he was drafted in the second round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, after a four year career with the University of Maryland.

The new contract does not mean a move abroad still can’t happen for Zusi, but now Sporting KC will be able to sell Zusi for a full transfer price if and when he does move overseas, while Zusi plays for a significantly higher salary.

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48 Responses to Zusi signs new contract with Sporting KC

  1. maxq says:

    The Eurosnobs are going to be pissed.

    • That Guy says:

      Yes we are

    • Josh D says:

      Pissed is a bit harsh. But I’m a tad disappointed. He won’t be as challenged in MLS. You can see that he struggles against faster paced teams – and critics routinely point that out. In order to get to the next level, you have to play those faster teams (Belgium) day in and out. Yes, Donovan was an anomaly. No, Zusi isn’t Donovan.

      It’s not a eurosnob thing. It’s simply a fact about our league: the pace is far wilder, the development is slower. Zusi has the skills to get to that next level. I’d imagine his failed training stint with West Ham made him wary coming into 2014.

      His choice.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        He’s a surprise starter on the USMNT roughly a year before Brazil. If he did this in a way where he has limited years or an option out after a year or two, he can maintain the fruitful status quo through Brazil and then look to cash in. But there have been some players who try and cash in on their success now and upset the apple cart right in front of the World Cup roster they thought they’d make. Ain’t broke don’t fix it….at least not until next summer.

    • Pingunça says:

      Montero did the same last season and now SSFC is gonna get their return on investment,

    • Colin says:

      Yep… Right now he is in the prime of his soccer life. If he is going to get better, he needs to be playing against better competition. 4 years from now he will be too old with no resale value. It is not snobbish to say that the level of play is better in Europe and it is simply a reality that the United States needs its players playing against the best players in the world if we are going to compete at the world. MLS competition is about equivalent to CONCACAF, but it is not equivalent to the level of competition we will be seeing in the World Cup.

    • TomG says:

      G@#%#*it!! I wanted to see him take the next step while he’s in his prime! He’s a good fit for England. Can’t you see him pinging crosses to Jozy at Sunderland? Now pass me my Grey Poupn and peel me a grape, peasant!

    • TomG says:

      G@#%#*it!! I wanted to see him take the next step while he’s in his prime! He’s a good fit for England. Can’t you see him pinging crosses to Jozy at Sunderland? Now pas$$ me my Grey Poupon and peel me a grape, peasant!

  2. biff says:

    I hope he demanded a release clause in the contract that will allow him to leave for Europe if a certain transfer fee level is met. It could be he that SKC will allow him to move after WC 2014, when after a good showing his value will be sky high.

    • Grubbsbl says:

      I think your spot on about the release clause. I wouldn’t even be surprised if that was the sole purpose of the deal. Zusi gets a little bit more money and KC gets to restructure a release clause that will represent a big pay off in the next 18 months. All parties are happy. And lets face it, Zusi is deserving of his payday. Others point out his limited 1v1 ability at the international level to suggest he is average, but I see a player with wonderful commitment and soccer smarts who has only recently been exposed to the highest level. He could very well be a late bloomer with continued growth.

    • bryan says:

      yeah, this seems like a move for KC to ensure they get money for him. but i don’t see Zusi agreeing to it unless there is a clause like the example you provided.

      • John Phog says:

        SKC has been more than fair with guys like Espinoza and Kamara. No reason to think they’d do anything contractually to pin Zusi down. This is a win/win. That’s how they operate.

        • bryan says:

          absolutely, i didn’t mean to imply KC was going to screw Zusi over. but since he would have been a free transfer in a year, i think KC absolutely did this to ensure they get a fee…which they should.

    • TomG says:

      Doubt there’s a release. MLS doesn’t typically do those. If LD didn’t get one on his deal, no way Zusi does, right? I think Zus, like LD, is a bit of a homebody, and doesn’t have any big ambitions. He seems content to stay in KC.

  3. BrianK says:

    Good for him. Smart move to lock him up,…but I don’t see him as a risk to move abroad.

    • biff says:

      he will make the move, only a question of when…

      • Grubbsbl says:

        There is also the question of where? :)

        I would love him to move to Italy.

        • biff says:

          I am sure Uncle Jurgen will take good care of Zeus and make sure he ends up at the best possible team.

      • BrianK says:

        You think? He had a trial at West Ham and did not impress enough to generate any interest. Don’t get me wrong,…I like the guy a lot and wish NYRB would splash out some money to buy him from SKC (not sure if that is allowed in MLS?) but I don’t think European teams look at him as anything too special.

  4. Nate says:

    What does Zusi have to do to silence the haters? He is legit.

    • zztoppppp says:

      +1 I’ve been saying this for the past 6 months, but over half of the people who comment on SBI seem to think he is “way too limited, and not creative enough”.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        I instead have a Brad Davis criticism that he can hit a cross and be creative but that he is not such a burner that he can easily create the space for his crossing and creativity at the next level.

        I think he’s playing well enough to be on the roster right now, assists total is sky high, the real debate is should he be starting or more of a technical sub.

        • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

          That will shake out over the next year. I’ve been saying this for a while. I think Zusi is this cycle’s Feilhaber. He’s either starting or first off the bench and can play a variety of roles depending on the situation. Very useful player to have in the squad.

    • Kosh says:

      The thing is I don’t think Zusi gives a flying [moderated word] about what the haters think. That dude is getting it done and the people who matter see it and recognize it.

      Congrats Graham and keep on doing your thing, sir.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      as often happens, you may be confusing ‘haters’ with those who just don’t love him as much as you do.

      i don’t hate zusi anymore than i hate brad evans (i like brad evans). i think he’s good enough for concacaf, and i like having him in the squad; i just would be disappointed if he’s the best we can do in that position.

      • Amru says:

        +1 I swear you would think some of these people were related to the guy. Won’t hear a bad thing about him.

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      What do Zusi supporters have to do to get a little more realsitc about what he is? He is a good player. He is a good guy to have in the national team picture. He is also in a very good place for himself right now. Signing this contract makes great sense for him.

      I am no “hater”. I was glad to see the guy getting called in. It’s not his fault that our ego-driven coach shows every sign of keeping him in a starting job for reasons that have nothing to do with ultimate quality. But the situation forces a Donovan vs Zusi comparison, which in turn forces some Zusi fans to really overstate what he’s doing and to gloss over any flaws. The problem is not Zusi-haters. It’s that with a substaintial number of people on line you can’t have a rational discussion about him.

      • Lost in Space says:

        I don’t Love or Hate Zusi. I agree with a statement above…Zusi is this cycles Benny. Personally I don’t see it as a Zusi Vs. Donovan think either. I think each brings something to the table…and would make a great 1, 2 punch regardless of who starts and who comes off the bench.
        I’m not sold that Donovan will be able to be a consistent 90 min player at a WC.
        Will be nice to finally have a reliable options off the bench (depth) at almost all positions. All we are really lacking now…depth wise….proven backups for:
        Dempsey – Hoping that’s sorted out during GC (Bedoya???)
        Forward – Beyond Jozy, Gomez, Boyd are there options?
        LM – Donovan, Mixx, Beasley…can one of them step it up to supplant EJ? Or allow FJ to move back to LB?
        LB – Castillo….is he capable of playing to his club level with the NT?
        CB – Still the biggest concern for the full NT

    • Colin says:

      It is not hatting to want to see Zusi move to Europe; it is an indictment of his ability.

  5. beto says:

    good for SKC. Zusi is DP quality.. with knowing the terms of the contract — probably good..

  6. James says:

    I’m torn as to how I feel about Zusi potentially leaving the MLS post world cup. Zusi is a great player and makes the league, as a whole, better. There is no question that Zusi wants consistent playing time the season leading into the world cup. He’ll get that at SKC and hopefully somewhere during the winter. But do we want all of our best players leaving the MLS in their prime? I know as a USMNT team fan that the answer is a resounding yes until the MLS proves to be an Elite league. But how long will it take for the league to get there if we develop our best American players and ship them off? I’m torn. I just wish the MLS was at European level so I can love my team (DCU) and not pretend to like the EPL (I like the EPL, but hate when people say it’s so much better than the MLS).

  7. Brain Guy says:

    Separated at birth: Graham Zusi and Roger Federer.

  8. SanFran415 says:

    Goodson just signed with San Jose.

    I think Klinsmann is telling these guys–play in MLS, get consistent playing time and you’ll have a better shot at the team.

  9. MMV says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that Zusi has shut the door on playing abroad. His contract was due to expire at the end of the year, correct?? If this is the case he could leave on a free transfer. Signing a new deal guarantees SKC / MLS would get a transfer fee. He’s worth too much to just let walk. If this is indeed the long-term idea that’s a smart piece of business for the club and Zusi. If he doesn’t aspire to play abroad and he in turn intends to see out this contract that’s all fine and dandy, too. MLS needs players like him.

  10. Mike in Missouri says:

    Nothing wrong with raising the overall quality of MLS by keeping our best players home.

    Now if we’ll just stop expanding after NYCFC and concentrate on better infrastructure for the lower divisions, that would be the way to go.

  11. Charles says:

    Nice to see Zusi stay and play here. Look forward to watching him. This happening at the same time as Montero being moved to Europe, replaced by a better player.

    Hopefully MLS, and other leagues, can afford to do more of it.

  12. jlm says:

    What was the knock on him coming out of Maryland? Why a 2nd round pick?