Beyond The Box Score presented by Compass Minerals

Beyond the Box Score presented by Compass Minerals: Graham Zusi hits special milestone in long-awaited return to play

Beyond The Box Score" is a weekly series presented by Compass Minerals that takes a statistical dive into every Sporting match, bringing to light the intriguing numbers and factoids that don't appear in the typical box score. To visit the series archive, click here.


For the first 60 minutes on Sunday night, Sporting Kansas City were the decidedly better side in their group stage opener of the MLS is Back Tournament against Minnesota United FC. Khiry Shelton had opened the scoring two minutes before halftime, and the Loons had mustered a single shot attempt through the first hour of play at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Walt Disney World.

A series of unfortunate events tilted the game on its head, however, as Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia received a straight red card in the 74th minute and Minnesota struck twice in second-half stoppage time to seal an unlikely 2-1 victory. Amazingly enough, the defeat marked the first time in club history that Sporting had lost an MLS regular season match after leading at the start of stoppage time.

Nevertheless, Sunday's wild affair wasn't void of positive milestones for Manager Peter Vermes' men. Upon kickoff, right back Graham Zusi registered his 300th career MLS appearance including playoffs. He became the 12th active MLS player to hit the landmark and just the fifth to amass 300 appearance with a single club.

The 33-year-old Zusi has spent his entire professional career in Kansas City, having joined the team in 2009 as a SuperDraft selection alongside captain Matt Besler.

Active Players with 300 MLS appearances (including playoffs)

Through July 12, 2020

# Player Matches Club(s) MLS Career
1 Kyle Beckerman 526 MIA, COL, RSL 2001-present
2 Jeff Larentowicz 451 NE, COL, CHI, LA, ATL 2005-present
3 Drew Moor 409 DAL, COL, TOR 2005-present
4 Dax McCarty 386 DAL, DC, NY, CHI, NAS 2006-present
5 Chris Wondolowski 368 HOU, SJ 2005-present
6 Kei Kamara 358 CLB, SJ, HOU, SKC, NE, VAN, COL 2006-present
7 Jordan Harvey 338 COL, PHI, VAN, LAFC 2006-present
8 Osvaldo Alonso 332 SEA, MIN 2009-present
9 Shea Salinas 318 PHI, VAN, SJ 2008-present
10 Stefan Frei 310 TOR, SEA 2009-present
11 Matt Besler 305 Sporting Kansas City 2009-present
12 Graham Zusi 300 Sporting Kansas City 2009-present

BOLD = Player has 300 MLS appearances with one club

Despite the bitter twist that punctuated Sunday's match, Sporting fans had reason to feel good about their club returning to the pitch after a four-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 127 days had elapsed between Sporting's 4-0 hammering of the Houston Dynamo on March 7 and the club's MLS is Back Tournament curtain raiser, which is roughly equivalent to a full MLS offseason. In fact, the team's average offseason length over the previous decade comes out to 122 days.

Sporting KC offseason lengths since 2011

  Last Game
First Game
Days Apart
2011
11/6/11
3/10/12
125
2012
11/7/12
3/2/13
115
2013
12/7/13
3/8/14
91
2014
10/30/14
3/8/15
129
2015
10/29/15
3/6/16
129
2016
10/27/16
3/4/17
128
2017
10/26/17
3/4/18
129
2018
11/29/18
2/21/19
84
2019
10/6/19
2/29/20
146

Sporting will relish the opportunity for a quick bounce back, which comes Friday against the Colorado Rapids in another 7 p.m. CT kickoff at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. The contest will be shown nationally on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and the ESPN app, while listeners can catch the action locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.

The MLS is Back Tournament has divided the 24 participating clubs into six groups of four. The top two finishers in each group, as well as the four best third-place finishers, will advance to the knockout rounds beginning July 25. For more information, visit SportingKC.com/MLSisBack.

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