Three Sporting KC players named to U.S. Men’s National Team roster
Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler, Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi were selected to the U.S. Men’s National Team roster on Sunday for a training camp from Jan. 7-27 at the National Training Center in Carson, Calif., the United States Soccer Federation announced. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann named 25 players for the team’s annual January Camp ahead of the United States first match of 2013 against Canada at 8:00 p.m. CT on Jan. 29 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
“This is absolutely a huge opportunity, and we’re looking forward to working with them,” said Klinsmann. “We are getting ready for the friendly against Canada, and also the big World Cup qualifier in Honduras, so these are going to be an important few weeks of preparation.”
The three players selected from Sporting Kansas City are tied for the most chosen from any club, following the team’s first place finish in the Eastern Conference during the 2012 Major League Soccer season.
Besler, 25, will join the United States Men’s National Team for the second time in his career after earning a spot on the 20-player gameday roster for the country’s first-ever win against Mexico at Estadio Azteca in August. The Overland Park, Kan. native is coming off a stellar 2012 campaign in which he received Best XI honors and was named MLS Defender of the Year and MLS Breakout Player of the Year. An MLS All-Star in 2011, Besler was also voted the team’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season in 2012 and was the highest-ranked defender in this year’s MLS Castrol Index.
"I am both honored and excited to get called in to the U.S. Men’s National Team camp,” Besler said. “This will be my first chance at an extended look with the team and I'm determined to make the most of the opportunity. I look forward to getting started and I will represent myself, teammates, coaches and fans to the best of my ability."
Feilhaber returns to the U.S. Men’s National Team for the first time since the January Camp one year ago when he made his 39th international appearance for the United States in a 1-0 victory over Venezuela. The 27-year-old midfielder, who debuted for the U.S. in 2007, was acquired by Sporting Kansas City in a trade with the New England Revolution last month.
"I'm really excited about the opportunity to get back to the National Team,” Feilhaber said. “Obviously, joining Sporting Kansas City is something I'm excited about and now being able to get back with the National Team to prove myself on top of that is something that I am really looking forward to."
Zusi made six appearances – all in victories -- for the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2012, including the team’s last three FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, after debuting with the United States in the January Camp one year ago. He tallied the game-winning goal for the U.S. in a 1-0 victory at Panama and earned his first international assist in a 2-1 victory at Antigua & Barbuda in October. The 26-year-old playmaker led Major League Soccer with a single season career-high 15 assists in 2012, earning MLS Best XI and All-Star honors en route to finishing third in MVP voting.
"This year will be an exciting one for U.S. Soccer so I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get it started with all the guys," Zusi said. "Last year, this camp enabled me to take the next step as a player and it's always important to make the most of the chances like this when they come."
The international friendly versus Canada on Jan. 29 will be the United States only game prior to the start of final round qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup on Feb. 6 against Honduras in San Pedro Sula. The U.S.-Canada match will be shown live on ESPN2 and WatchESPN, while fans can also follow the match online through ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker or via Twitter (@ussoccer).