A year ago this time, Graham Zusi was coming off a Man of the Match performance for the U.S. Men's National Team in their 2014 opener...the first of 10 international appearances on the year, including all four U.S. MNT matches at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, to go along with 31 games across all competition for Sporting Kansas City.
Fast forward to present day and Zusi has been sidelined with a stress reaction in his foot since the team's elimination from the MLS Cup Playoffs in October -- missing two U.S. Men's National Team camps and reduced to limited participation through Sporting Kansas City's first two weeks of preseason activity. His injury-forced hiatus is nearing its end, however, and the three-time MLS All-Star is ready for a return to the field for the first time more than 14 weeks.
Tucson's ABC affiliate KGUN9 caught up with him on Thursday at the Kino Sports Complex to talk about the recent rest and recovery. Check out the video below...
The offseason is officially over. Sporting KC players report to Kansas City today in time for entrance physicals at Swope Soccer Village on Saturday and a flight to Tucson, Arizona on Sunday for the first of two training camps (Jan. 25 - Feb. 10 and Feb. 15 - March 1) in The Old Pueblo.
And while we'll keep #SKCNation updated with all the latest preseason news and notes right here on SportingKC.com, social media is the must-follow source for banter and behind-the-scenes access as we count down the days until the team's season opener on March 8.
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Helping children thrive through life’s challenges is the mission of The Victory Project. This year -- with the help of our players, coaches, staff and fans -- The Victory Project was able to impact the lives of many children in the Kansas City area through various programs and special events.
During the month of December, The Victory Project will countdown some of their favorite moments from the year. Follow @VictoryKC on Twitter and @VictoryProjectKC on Instagram to relive the memorable events and experiences. And if you have a favorite moment, please share on social media or in the comments section below.
To learn more about The Victory Project, visit VictoryKC.org.
Earlier this fall, the Sporting Club Network presented by Price Chopper opened the second edition of its Sporting Kansas City Youth Reporter contest. Hopefuls from around the Midwest submitted their videos explaining why they wanted to be Sporting Kansas City’s next Youth Reporter. After all the entries were reviewed, Carter Stuck, Miles Crosser and Sofia Stockwood were chosen to attend a Sporting KC training session at Swope Soccer Village. The finalists were able to take in practice alongside “The Voice of Sporting Kansas City” Cal Williams. At the conclusion of training, all three had the opportunity to interview their favorite Sporting KC players.
In the end, Sofia was chosen to be Sporting Kansas City’s next Youth Reporter. During Sporting KC’s match against Chicago, Sofia and her family enjoyed an exclusive gameday experience that kicked off with a private tour of Sporting Park. After visiting the TV truck to learn about all that goes into the production of a game, Sofia listened alongside Williams and Diego Gutierrez as they called the game live.
From there, Sofia was recognized on-field at halftime and received a rousing applause from the crowd for her accomplishments. The evening came to a close with Sofia meeting Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber at the conclusion of the match and observing the post-game press conference that featured Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes and Zusi inside the interview room.
“The entire night was so much fun,” said Sofia. “From the TV truck, to hanging out with Cal and Diego in the booth, to getting down on the field and of course meeting Matt Besler, who's my inspiration.”
League play begins tonight at Swope Soccer Village as area youth soccer players will step foot on the new fields for the first time since the start of a $15.5 million expansion at the state-of-the-art facility. Over 16,000 boys and girls of all ages will compete at Swope Soccer Village during the Fall 2014 season, representing more than 1,100 teams from nearly 200 clubs.
Mayor Sly James stopped by the nine-field complex (three natural grass, six synthetic turf) at 63rd and Lewis Rd in Kansas City, Missouri on Thursday, sending out a series of tweet with his first impressions.
— Mayor Sly James (@MayorSlyJames) September 4, 2014
— Mayor Sly James (@MayorSlyJames) September 4, 2014
An official dedication ceremony will be held next Friday, Sept. 12 at 4:30 p.m. CT on the south plaza at Swope Soccer Village. Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo, 5th District Councilman Michael Brooks, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, KC Parks Commissioners and Sporting KC representatives will all be in attendance for the festivities.
In addition to league competition, Swope Soccer Village's fall schedule is highlighted by several upcoming marquee events:
- Big 12 Soccer Championship: The postseason tournament returns to KC for a second straight year as the top eight women's soccer teams in the Big 12 conference play in a single-elimination tournament from Nov. 5-9 for an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
- Youth Soccer Clinic: Hosted by the Kansas City Sports Commission and featuring NWSL champions FC Kansas City, the clinic is free for kids 6-12 and will be held from 8:30-10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8. Registration is required.
- Presidents Cup & State Cup: The best under-15 thru under-18 girls soccer teams from Missouri and Kansas will play Nov. 8-9 in pursuit of berths to regional competition and with college coaches in attendance for recruiting opportunities.
- NCAA Division III Soccer Championship: The men's and women's champions of NCAA Division III will be crowned on Dec. 5-6 in the first of four years of NCAA soccer championships coming to Swope Soccer Village.
A week ago, it was Sporting KC captain Matt Besler. Last night, Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman took his turn. Today, Manager Peter Vermes and four more of the MLS Cup champions joined in on the nationwide movement.
Check out the video playlist below to see Dom Dwyer, Jon Kempin, Jacob Peterson and Erik Palmer-Brown follow their coach's lead after the team's training on Thursday at the Swope Soccer Village.
In addition to raising awareness for the disease, the Ice Bucket Challenge has led to $7.6 million in donations for The ALS Association since July 29. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that currently has no cure. Click here to learn more about ALS and to find out how you can support the cause.
Without a few of the team's top players on the eve of the 2014 MLS All-Star Game, Sporting Kansas City welcomed a star from another sport to their training session on Tuesday at the Swope Soccer Village. NASCAR driver Joey Logano paid a visit to the MLS Cup champions while in Kansas City for a media tour to promote the Hollywood Casino 400 race weekend at Kansas Speedway from Oct. 3-5.
Logano led the first 30 laps and finished third on Sunday in the GoBowling.com 400. His eighth top-five finish of the year moved the 24-year-old up to eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver standings and he is one of only seven drivers to have clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with five races remaining until the field is set.
For all the sights and sounds from Tuesday's training, check out the video above and photo slideshow below. Plus, click here to see the social media chatter captured from the festivities.
Every year the Sporting Club Network hosts a variety of events exclusive to its members, with one of the more popular series being the mini clinics that give young players the chance to play alongside their favorite Sporting KC heroes. New in 2014, the Network introduced its very first Futsal Mini Clinic that took place at the newly installed Futsal Courts at Wyandotte High School.
In July 2013, MLS WORKS and Sporting Kansas City teamed up with the 2013 MLS All-Stars to unveil these new futsal courts at Wyandotte High School. These public-use courts were designed to provide local youth of the Kansas City community with a safe place to play while also improving their soccer skills.
Major League Soccer created MLS WORKS in 2007 as their official community outreach program. The goal was to create sustainable projects that would help improve the lives of people through the promotion of active lifestyles. MLS WORKS accomplished just that in Kansas City with the construction of these courts.
Fast forward eight months to April 7th, the date of the SCN’s Futsal Mini Clinic, where these once unused tennis courts are now providing the game to the local community and are still being used constantly. Not only were all the signs intact and the courts still in fantastic condition when staff from Sporting Kansas City arrived to set up for the clinic, but both courts were in use until the start of the clinic and both courts were swarmed again afterward with kids playing until the sun went down.
For pictures from the SCN Futsal Mini Clinic, and to see the use these courts continue to get, please view the slideshow below. And to learn more about the Sporting Club Network and how it engages with its members, be sure to follow the SCN on Twitter and like the program on Facebook.
To honor National Recycling Month in April, Sporting Kansas City along with The Victory Project and the Sporting Club Network have been hosting a series of donation drives for new and gently used soccer gear. Fans attending pre-designated games and events were encouraged to clean out their garages and bring used soccer equipment to the collection sites. At the conclusion of the campaign, more than 100 pairs of soccer cleats, shin guards and soccer balls were contributed to the cause.
Last night, a clinic was hosted featuring Sporting KC players, coaches and nearly 70 kids from the El Padrino soccer league at Soccer Nation in Wyandotte County. Thanks to the support of KCP&L, each child was provided food and given a drawstring bag with a soccer ball, water bottle and t-shirt. Each child was also able to go home with a pair of donated soccer cleats.
"This is a big event for us because our fans have been donating used soccer equipment," Sporting KC assistant coach Mateus Manoel said. "As we know, without equipment you can't really play. So for them, it's a joy to be able to have some of this stuff and learn from some of our coaches."
Check out the video above for sights and sounds from the event, as well as the photo slideshow below.