Sporting Kansas City are off to a blistering start to the 2012 season. There are a lot of reasons for this hot start. Kei Kamara's shooting spree; the sturdy defensive play of pretty much the entire team; Roger Espinoza's un-yielding engine; Jimmy Nielsen's patient captaincy; Peter Vermes' game-plan; home-field advantage to start the season; better tasting Gatorade on the sidelines. Or maybe not that last one.
But the most consistent contributor through the introductory month of March has been midfield maestro Graham Zusi.
He leads all of MLS with 4 assists on the season. And he's pitched in a goal -- scored while on his back -- during the New England thrashing in the home opener.
One year ago, Zusi was a bit player for Peter Vermes -- a technically gifted midfielder blessed with a heavy shot but no position and suspect distribution. Today, he's become the most important offensive player for Sporting Kansas City.
He is three assists away from surpassing his career high of 7 last season. And he's headed in the right direction to match his five goals from ‘11 too.
What's really crazy? He's not completely healthy right now and recovering from a muscle strain picked up when training with the U.S. National Team in January. (Oh, if you've forgotten, he scored his first goal for the Yanks this Winter too.)
The Samurai -- not sure if the name derived from his mane will stick, but I like it -- is the main fulcrum for nearly all of KC's attacking moves. He's also the team's main playmaker on free and corner kicks.
Here are a few videos of Zeus at work.
His goal against New England: