"The Week in Review,” is a weekly series that highlights the biggest storylines and news updates from Sporting Kansas City.
1. Sporting KC re-signs Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza and Andreu Fontas
Last Friday, Sporting Kansas City announced the re-signing of three MLS veterans, defender Graham Zusi, midfielder Roger Espinoza and defender Andreu Fontas. Zusi and Espinoza inked one-year deals through 2023 with options for 2024 while Fontas signed a two-year contract through 2024.
Zusi has spent his entire 14-year professional career at Sporting and won four major championships in Kansas City—the 2013 MLS Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles in 2012, 2015 and 2017. He joined Sporting out of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and has since become the longest-tenured player with one team in MLS history. Zusi is Sporting’s all-time appearance leader with 395 matches played in all competitions. He also ranks first on the club’s all-time charts in starts (348) and minutes (31,761) while placing second in assists (89) and ninth in goals (35).
Espinoza began his professional career in Kansas City as a 2008 MLS SuperDraft selection out of Ohio State University and has spent 13 seasons at Sporting Kansas City. In two separate spells at Sporting from 2008-2012 and 2015 to present, Espinoza ranks second in club history in appearances (368) and third in starts (321) and minutes played (28,220) across all competitions. He has scored 14 goals and sits fifth on Sporting’s all-time chart with 47 assists. Espinoza leads Sporting with 24 career appearances in the U.S. Open Cup, a prestigious domestic tournament he helped the team win in 2012, 2015 and 2017.
Fontas, who arrived in Kansas City in 2018, has been a backline staple for Sporting over the last two seasons. The Spanish center back has started in 62 of the club’s 70 MLS matches since 2021, flourishing as one of the league’s best ball-playing defenders. In the previous two seasons combined, Fontas leads MLS in total passes, successful passes and touches while also leading the team in interceptions and clearances. Fontas earned Sporting’s Defender of the Year award for the second straight season in 2022, finishing the campaign with starts in 31 of 32 appearances across all competitions.
The Sporting Kansas City roster now sits at 26 players heading into the 2023 MLS campaign, which will kick off the final weekend of February. For a full list of Sporting’s offseason roster moves, visit SportingKC.com/news/tracker.
2. Sporting KC and KC Power & Light District host World Cup Watch Parties at KC Live!
This past week, Sporting Kansas City partnered with KC Live! to host three more FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Watch Parties for the United States Men's National Team and Mexico's pivotal World Cup matches. Tuesday, USMNT fans cheered their country to a 1-0 victory over Iran which propelled them into the last 16. Wednesday, El Tri claimed a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia but missed out on the knockout round due to goal differential, finishing one goal behind Poland for the second spot in Group C.
Saturday, Kansas City cemented its title as the Soccer Capital of America when KC Live! was packed full of passionate USA fans at 9 a.m. CT for the USMNT's last 16 clash with the Netherlands. The Oranje struck twice in the first half and repelled chance after chance from the United States. Hadji Wright finally got the US on the scoreboard in the 76th as the deficit was trimmed in half. The Dutch responded five minutes later to dash the 2022 World Cup hopes for the USMNT. A little under four years from now, in the summer of 2026, Kansas City will take centerstage once again when the city hosts 2026 FIFA World Cup matches at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.