Graham Zusi smiling with mask - Sporting KC

Like the countless supporters watching on Saturday night, Graham Zusi will be buzzing with excitement as a spectator when Sporting Kansas City opens the 2021 MLS season on Saturday at the New York Red Bulls.

Zusi is in the final stages of recovering from a long-term foot injury and will return to the pitch for competitive action in the coming weeks. Until then, fans can finally celebrate the start of a long-awaited 2021 campaign.

Making his customary appearance on Sports Radio 810 WHB this morning with Border Patrol hosts Nate Bukaty and Steven St. John, Zusi pointed out that Saturday’s clash will feature a fascinating clash of styles. Sporting predicates its game on possession and sustained attack, while the Red Bulls are known for their signature high press and often times prefer conceding possession and striking on the counter.

“We tend to have a style of play that we want to implement, and we don’t want to change that style whether we’re home or away,” Zusi said. “We like playing that attractive type of soccer where we have a lot of possession and we’re attack-oriented. It’s a very pleasing style of soccer and that’s the way we’ve gone about it this year. We’ve added a few new pieces as well, and I’m excited to see how those guys can help our team.

He continued: “Going into New York, that’s a team that traditionally loves to come out and high press like crazy. They fly at you as soon as you’ve got possession in your own half. They’ll be high pressing like crazy, but that’s something we can take advantage because we are so good with the ball and being patient and playing out of the back.”

Zusi also discussed Sporting’s recent team trip to Platte City, Missouri, where players received their COVID-19 vaccinations. The veteran defender said that although the vaccine won’t change anything about the strict safety protocols they follow as athletes, receiving the shot did welcome a palpable sense of relief among the players.

“It’s a little bit of a weight off your shoulders,” he said. “We obviously have to still be careful and adhere to guidelines until we have more of a nationwide distribution. There’s definitely a bit of stress relief amongst our group because no one wanted to be that guy who (got COVID) and gave it to the team. We did a really good job last year, but that wasn’t always the case around the league.”

Saturday’s contest will kick off at 7 p.m. CT with live coverage on Sports Radio 810 WHB as well as Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO and La Grande 1340 AM.