Sporting KC - Matt Besler MLS SuperDraft 2009

Ever since Sporting Kansas City entered Major League Soccer as the Kansas City Wiz in 1996, very few days have changed the course of the club’s history quite like Jan. 15, 2009.

On a cold afternoon in St. Louis precisely 10 years ago, technical director and soon-to-be manager Peter Vermes hit an absolute home run at the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. He selected hometown defender Matt Besler in the first round and two-time NCAA national champion Graham Zusi in the second round, reeling in two future stars who have since become the faces of the franchise.

Side by side, Besler and Zusi have embarked on a meteoric rise since then. From unsung rookies to MLS breakouts, from Best XI selections to U.S. Men’s National Team regulars, they have helped transform Sporting Kansas City into a perennial title contender — winning an MLS Cup and three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups — while proudly representing their country on the world stage.

Hundreds of pages could be written on the duo’s professional journey, much of which would read like a storybook. And what better starting point to this story than Jan. 15, 2009, the day they joined Sporting KC.

Besler and Zusi linked up with Sporting on Sunday in Arizona for the start of the club’s 2019 preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy. In doing so, they have become the first players ever to spend 11 seasons with the club. Not surprisingly, Besler and Zusi rank first and second, respectively, in several all-time statistical categories for Sporting, including total appearances and minutes played.

Sporting will train in Scottsdale until Jan. 31 and again from Feb. 6-19 before returning to Kansas City for the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 first leg against Deportivo Toluca FC on Feb. 21 at Children’s Mercy Park. Tickets for the match are now available via