Three Sporting Kansas City players have received national team call-ups for Wednesday’s FIFA friendly match date.
The U.S. national team have called up midfielder Graham Zusi (for the third time this year) and Matt Besler (for the first time in his career). The United States will travel to Mexico City to face Mexico.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Midfielder Roger Espinoza, fresh of his superb showing in the Olympics, will join the Honduran national team for a friendly against Argentine club team Boca Juniors in Miami.
The call-ups for Zusi (the All-Star is tied for the league lead with 10 assists this year) and Espinoza weren’t surprises.
But Besler, one of two-players on the 23-man roster to get his first invitation to the U.S. squad, is a bit of a surprise. Not that he’s not having a stellar year. The Overland Park native is the anchor of the league’s stingiest defense (0.92 goals allowed per game). However, he’s never been invited to any national-team camps; not even the traditional MLS-heavy January camp.
“I’ve been working hard to get the chance and it’s a blessing, so I hope to make the very best of it,” Besler said in a statement released by the team. “It’ll make it easier to have [Zusi] there; he’s been there before. Obviously, I know him very well, so hopefully he’ll help ease the process for me.”
This is a big opportunity for Besler -- a rare left-footed center back -- to impress the coaching staff in a shallow pool of defenders.
This is the third call for Zusi this year. He participated in the January national team camp and scored his first ever goal against Panama in a friendly. He was invited to a training camp in May also.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has called in nine MLS players for this match along with six players who play professionally in Mexico -- including former Kansas City midfielder Herculez Gomez.