It's been a busy few weeks for Sporting KC's Graham Zusi. After starring for the U.S. Men's National Team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Zusi returned to Kansas City and picked up where he left off, helping Sporting KC to first place in the Eastern Conference while earning MLS All-Star honors and a new contract along the way.
Now, Zusi will be taking to the Twitterverse to answering your burning questions. The 27-year-old will host a Twitter Takeover on Tuesday at 12 p.m. CT on the Sporting KC Twitter account. Zusi will be talking about his experience with the USMNT in Brazil, signing a new contract with Sporting KC as well as the latest in adidas footwear, the Predator Instinct.
To submit a question for Graham, use #AskZusi.
Entering Wednesday night's match, 26 players had started an MLS match for Sporting KC in 2014. That number is now 27, after Mikey Lopez made his MLS debut in the 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew.
Sporting KC drafted Lopez with the No. 14 overall selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. Lopez featured for the U.S. U-20 Men's National Team at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup before making his Sporting KC debut against the Des Moince Menace in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third round match on May 26.
The Texas native started and played 64 minutes in last night's debut, tallying two shots in the match.
Lopez has spent the majority of 2014 on loan to Sporting KC's USL Pro affiliates, appearing in 14 games with Orlando City SC and OKC Energy FC. The 21-year-old midfielder scored his first professional goal for Energy FC in a 2-0 win over Sacramento Republic on June 28.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is on the cusp of crowning a champion as Argentina and Germany will meet in the final on Sunday at the historic Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2 p.m. CT live on ABC & Univision). While Germany are making a record eighth appearance in the World Cup final and fourth straight top-four finish after handing the hosts a stunning 7-1 defeat on Tuesday, Argentina have advanced past the quarterfinal round for the first time since doing so in 1986 and 1990 when they ultimately met West Germany in the final on both occasions.
Back then, La Albiceleste fielded Diego Maradona in his prime but today a new age of stars led by captain and four-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi has the South American side on the brink of lifting the World Cup trophy for the first time since 1986 -- nearly a full year before the 27-year-old Messi was born.
Glimpses of this golden generation began to garner attention on the global stage in 2005 at the FIFA World Youth Championship when Argentina's Under-20 squad featured six players now in Brazil on their World Cup roster: Sergio Aguero, Lucas Biglia, Fernando Gago, Ezequiel Garay, Lionel Messi and Pablo Zabaleta. Five of those six were on the field yesterday in Argentina's semifinal showdown versus the Netherlands, including the team's first three shooters in the decisive penalty shootout.
As such, it comes as little surprise that Argentina outlasted the 24-team field in 2005 to claim the prestigious youth title but only after opening the tournament with a stunning group stage upset at the hands of the United States. "There's no excuse for this defeat," said Lionel Messi, who went on to become the tournament's top player and goal scorer.
Turning back the clock nine summers ago, today's Throwback Thursday remembers the roles Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber and forward Jacob Peterson played at Arke Stadium in the Netherlands when the United States Under-20 Men's National Team prevailed 1-0 over Argentina, earned a scoreless draw against Germany and won their group thanks to Peterson's game-winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Egypt.
- June 11, 2005: USA 1, Argentina 0
- June 15, 2005: USA 0, Germany 0
- June 18, 2005: USA 1, Egypt 0
Benny Feilhaber and the U.S. celebrate Chad Barrett's goal against Argentina
Dom Dwyer notched his team-leading 12th goal of the season yesterday in Sporting KC's 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire. The Sporting KC striker celebrated by taking a selfie in the South Stand at Sporting Park. Referree Alan Kelly handed Dwyer a yellow card for what he deemed, an excessive celebration. But when asked of his motive, the fun-loving goalscorer will tell you, it's all about giving the fans something to get excited about.
So why stop now? Dom will be taking over the Sporting KC Snapchat account and sending out personalized snaps to a selection of our #SKCSelfie contest participants. Here's are the rules:
- Add Sporting KC on Snapchat
- Take a Sporting KC/Dom Dwyer inspired selfie (the more outrageous - the better)
- Post it to your Instagram account and hashtag #SKCSelfie
- Include your Snapchat handle in your caption
If you need a little more inspiration, check out the social stir from Dom's goal celebration on Sunday:
On the eve of Independence Day, this afternoon's #TBT features Matt Besler and Graham Zusi. The duo is in route back to Kansas City after standout performances on the World Stage in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. But here's a look at where it all began as the two went from foes to friends.
Besler and Zusi both excelled in the college ranks. Besler became the first player in program history to garner both first-team All-America and Academic All-America honors at the Univeristy of Notre Dame, while Zusi boasts two NCAA championships as a member of the University of Maryland. The photo below is from 2007 when the Fighting Irish played the Terps in the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic at Jerry Yeagley Field at Armstrong Stadium. Maryland earned a 3-0 victory with Zusi notching the game-winner in the fifth minute.
That September afternoon, quite insignificant when compared to what Belser and Zusi have accomplished post-graduation. Besler was selected eighth overall in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft by his hometown of Kansas City and the Longwood, Florida native Zusi was selected in the second round with the 23rd overall pick also by KC. Since then, the pair has experienced tremendous success together including two Eastern Conference championships, a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, an MLS Cup and most recently helped the U.S. Men's National Team advance beyond the "group of death" at the World Cup.
Major props to Sean Carroll for this great find.
Sporting Kansas City forward Soony Saad has scored three goals in the team's last three matches including two game-winners in all-competition.
Saad started his first League match of the 2014 season against the Dynamo on June 6 at BBVA Compass Stadium and tallied a 45th minute goal for the visitors, assisted by Benny Feilhaber. Team-leader in goals this season with 11, Dom Dwyer converted a penalty kick in the 70th minute to secure the win, despite Sporting KC midfielder Antonio Dovale's ejection in the 21st minute of play.
Saad also opened the scoring for Sporting KC against Minnesota United in their fourth round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup victory. Sporting KC defeated Minnesota 2-0 at Sporting Park before bowing out of the domestic tournament with a fifth round loss to the Portland Timbers.
The Timbers scored three consecutive goals to start the match, before Saad struck again to shrink Portland's lead to two goals. At final whistle, Portland led 3-1 and advanced to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. Sporting KC will have a chance at rendemption tonight as the team takes on Portland in League play at 10 p.m. CT at Providence Park.
When Matt Besler and Graham Zusi were named to the U.S. Men's National Team roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, it marked the fifth consecutive tournament that a member of Kansas City's professional soccer team went to the World Cup.
Each week, we're highlighting a different World Cup tournament and Kansas City's representation at that tournament. The 1998 edition featured Preki (USA) and Uche Okafor (Nigeria), while the 2002 edition featured Tony Meola (USA). This week, we're throwing it back to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
That year, Bruce Arena named three Kansas City Wizards to the USMNT's roster: Eddie Johnson, Jimmy Conrad and Josh Wolff.
Johnson and Conrad played two matches each during the tournament, while Wolff came on as a sub in the USMNT's first match vs. the Czech Republic.
The United States earned one point during the tournament, falling to Ghana 2-1 in their final group stage match in the first match of what would become a budding rivalry.
By now you've probably seen Jimmy Fallon's opening monologue from Tuesday's The Tonight Show, where he "scouted" members of the U.S. Men's National Team including Sporting KC's Matt Besler and Graham Zusi. If you haven't seen it yet, click here.
But while Fallon's skit was funny is its own right, we made sure late night host wouldn't have the last laugh.
— Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) June 19, 2014
— Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) June 19, 2014
— Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) June 19, 2014
— Matt Besler (@mbesler) June 20, 2014
Last Monday, Matt Besler became the first Kansas City-born player to feature in a FIFA World Cup when he started the United States' 2-1 win over Ghana. Kansas City fans had even more to cheer about on Monday when Sporting KC winger Graham Zusi came off the bench to provide the game-winning assist in the win.
But did you know that Besler and Zusi were not the first two players to play in a World Cup while playing their professional soccer in Kansas City?
That honor goes to Uche Okafor and Preki in 1998, who represented Nigeria and the United States, respectively.
Four years later, Tony Meola became the third Kansas City Wizards player to be named to a World Cup roster, when head coach Bruce Arena named the New Jersey native as his third goalkeeper behind Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller.
After playing every minute for the United States at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, Meola did not feature again for the national team until January 1999, opting to pursue a career as a professional kicker in the NFL. Meola returned to the national team picture in 1999, but did not see time for the United States at the 2002 World Cup.
Meola retired from professional soccer in 2006 as one of the most decorated goalkeepers in MLS and Kansas City history. He won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, MLS MVP and MLS Cup MVP in 2000, in a year that saw the Wizards win their first MLS Cup title.
As part of the League's 10th anniversay in 2005, MLS named Meola to the MLS All-Time Best XI squad. Meola was inducted in the inaugural Sporting Legend class in 2013.