While a lot has been made of the players Sporting Kansas City brought in this offseason -- Omar Bravo, Jeferson, Aurelien Collin, Julio Cesar -- it's worth admiring the work put in by some guys who have been here a while.
Chance Myers is worth his No. 1 pick status and is now a top-flight fullback deserving of a U.S. national team call-up. Kei Kamara leads the team in scoring with 7 goals. Matt Besler has logged 2,070 minutes this season -- which equates to nearly 5 games more time on the field than the next-highest guy, CJ Sapong. He's also developed the deadly art of the long throw. Roger Espinoza made Stephane Auvray expendable and is now the engine (the animal) that runs the middle of the park.
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But today, let's focus on another guy who has really come into his own: Graham Zusi.
Before this year, Zusi had just over 1,000 minutes in two seasons with only a goal and an assist to show for it. The most notable thing about him this preseason was his impressive beard.
Now, he's got 5 goals, 4 assists, 1 MLS Player of the Month Award and 1 MLS Player of the Week Award (
which he happens to have won today
"This award could have been given to anyone on the team," Zusi said in a team press release. "We are playing well, having fun and enjoying our great stadium and crowd. Of course it is nice and humbling to be acknowledged, but this certainly is deserving for all of my Sporting Kansas City teammates and we are excited for the final nine games."
All that and he's humble too.
The other Zusi-news today is that he's nominated for
the MLS Goal of the Week for his long-range strike against Portland on Wednesday
Zusi is a vital part of the squad -- he might not always make the perfect pass, but he almost always chooses the best pass. Nobody on the team strikes the ball quite like him and his vision on the field is rivaled only by Jeferson and Omar Bravo.
It's quite remarkable, this transformation. And to think, it wouldn't have been possible if Jack Jewsbury where still in town and Omar Bravo and Davy Arnaud hadn't required sports hernia surgery. Give it up for Zusi and go vote for his goal.
Should be quite an interesting midfield mix when Davy Arnaud, Craig Rocastle and Jeferson return to full health.
NBC won't air its first MLS game until March 2012, but it's got the PR machine working early. During last night's NFL game on NBC, they debuted this promo. (And, yes, it features Sporting Kansas City -- both the fans and Kei Kamara.)