It wasn’t the sight Sporting Kansas City fans wanted to see on their home field for the MLS All-Star Game.
But there was Sporting midfielder Graham Zusi being subbed out in the 24th minute of Wednesday’s game, which Roma won 3-1. The initial diagnosis was a right quad strain, and he is questionable for Sporting’s game Saturday against the Red Bulls.
Zusi declined to offer the extent of the injury. He’ll be re-evaluated Thursday.
Just before the substitution, Zusi chatted with MLS coach Peter Vermes (also his Sporting coach), and shortly thereafter Vancouver’s Camilo Sanvezzo sprang to his feet from the bench and started warming up.
“I just told him that I needed to come out,” Zusi said. “I didn’t want to do anything stupid and risk it.”
The substitution marked the second year in a row a Sporting player was injured at the MLS All-Star Game.
Last year, defender Aurelien Collin suffered facial fractures after a collision with Chelsea’s Michael Essien. Collin missed two Sporting games as a result of that run-in.
“You don’t want to come out 20 minutes into the game, especially in your hometown,” Zusi said. “It was a bit of a bummer, but I think (the fans) can understand that Saturday’s game is a bit more important than (Wednesday).”
No such problems this year for Collin, although he did collide with Roma goalie Morgan De Sanctis late in the first half while trying to get a head on a cross.
Just a few minutes earlier, Collin was in attack mode when Roma gained control and started a counterattack. Collin charged down the field and eventually broke up the attack some 60 yards from where he had been.
And oh by the way, defender Matt Besler had the honor of joining Collin and Zusi as starters in the All-Star Game. Not bad for a kid who grew up in Johnson County and graduated from Blue Valley West.
Besler said he had about 15 or 20 family members at the game.
“To be honest, Sporting games are a little bit louder, just because everyone is on the same page,” Besler said, “and this is more of a celebration feel. But still it was a great atmosphere and the stadium was packed. There were a lot of people.”
In fact, it was a Sporting Park record crowd of 21,175. That’s the kind of crowd Sporting Kansas City rarely saw when it played under the name of the Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium when Besler was a kid.
“It’s hard to think that it would ever get to this,” said Besler as a smile spread across his face. “But I always hoped that it would, so I’m glad it did.”