Sporting KC

Sporting’s Zusi signs contract extension

Sporting Kansas City announced Friday that Graham Zusi signed a contract extension, which will keep him under club control through the 2017 season.

Zusi, 26, signed a three-year extension prior to the 2012 season, but manager Peter Vermes hammered out another three-year deal with a player he called “the face of the franchise.”

“Graham’s been performing well, not just here but on an international level, and we’d like to keep him here long-term,” Vermes said.

It wasn’t a tough sell convincing Zusi — an All-Star and MLS Best XI selection who led the league with 15 assists last season en route to being an MVP finalist — to stay.

“I couldn’t ask for a better organization to be a part of and I’m excited to extend my time here,” Zusi said.

Technically, Zusi didn’t sign a designated player contract, but Vermes indicated that he dipped into a special “retention” fund that helps offset any salary-cap hit.

“This is a great organization to play for,” Zusi said. “From top to bottom, they’re demanding the best — whether it’s from the players, coaches, staff, ownership group, stadium. They leave no stone unturned when they want to accomplish something, and that’s the kind of organization you want to play for.”

The deal doesn’t preclude the possibility Zusi leaves via loan or transfer, but it does ensure that his future is with Sporting KC should he elect to remain in MLS.

“Graham has become an integral part of our club and league over the past five years and we look forward to his contributions for years to come,” Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman said. “We are committed to bringing championships to Kansas City and that effort is reflected in assuring that the best playmaker in Major League Soccer remains here. As we have said in the past, guys who play consistently well over time here will be rewarded, and that certainly is the case with Graham.”

Zusi spent a few weeks on trial at West Ham United of the English Premier League in January, but said he isn’t interested in chasing a paycheck or playing abroad just for the sake of saying he played in Europe.

“I want to be in a spot where I’m getting the best training and best competition that I can play at,” Zusi said. “I’m not going to go to a league just because of the name of the league. I want to be getting the consistent competition, the highest level competition that I can, and now for me that’s right here.”