They made for unlikely bedfellows: U.S. men’s national team up-and-comer Graham Zusi and fans of Team USA’s fiercest rival, Mexico.
But there was Sporting KC midfielder Zusi on a sunny day in October, signing autographs for — and accepting gifts of appreciation from — fans of El Tri during an impromptu ceremony at Sporting KC’s Swope Park training facility.
What had Zusi done to earn the love of Mexico’s fan base? Score against Panama during stoppage time. The outcome of that match, ensured by Zusi, allowed Mexico to avoid missing out on its first World Cup since 1990 in spite of a 2-1 loss to Costa Rica.
The U.S. team wound up beating Panama 3-2.