One day after Matt Besler and Graham Zusi were announced as picks during the latest roster selection for the U.S. men’s national team, two more Sporting Kansas City players were chosen for national-team duty.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Forward Kei Kamara will join the Sierra Leone national team June 2-17 for FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Tunisia and Cape Verde Islands.
And forward Soony Saad is headed to his first camp with the Lebanon men’s national team May 25-31 ahead of an exhibition with Oman.
“We’ve been working on it for a while, but recently I obtained a Lebanese ID and we got the ball rolling,” said Saad, whose father, Ali, was born in Lebanon, making his son eligible for the national team.
Saad, 20, hasn’t visited Lebanon in 17 years since he was 3 years old, but he still feels a connection with his father’s homeland.
“With my father, I’ve always kind of grown up as a Lebanese boy even though I was with the (Under) 14s, 15s for the U.S. national team,” Saad said. “This is a good opportunity right now. … I’m excited. It’s going to be a new journey and new experience for me.”
Plans were in the works several months ago for Saad — who last played for the U.S. as a member of the under-20 squad in December 2010 — to join the Lebanese national team in time for an exhibition last December, but the paperwork didn’t come through.
Saad’s status remained in limbo until early May, and he didn’t have to wait long after that for the first chance to play for his new national team.
“Back in December, there was a friendly game, and we were working pretty hard to get the papers done,” Saad said. “It would have been good for the offseason to be training there, then come into the preseason really fit and ready to go. That didn’t materialize. There were some issues with the paperwork, but it came together finally.”
The only hurdle after that was to gain approval from Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes.
“It was up to coach and he gave me the green light, so I’m pretty excited to go and get some international experience,” Saad said.
With a strong showing, there’s a chance Saad could get to play in Lebanon’s mid-June World Cup qualifiers as well.
Kamara, 28, returned fewer than two weeks ago from a three-month loan with Norwich City of the English Premier League.
Besler and Zusi will meet up with the U.S. men after Sporting KC’s match on May 26 against the Houston Dynamo.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.