Beyond The Box Score: Graham Zusi delivers like never before in 2-0 win over FC Dallas

Diego Rubio and Gerso stole the headlines Saturday as Sporting Kansas City celebrated their 100th consecutive MLS sellout at world-class Children’s Mercy Park with a comprehensive 2-0 victory over fellow Western Conference contenders FC Dallas.

Rubio’s vicious volley and Gerso’s sublime strike came late in the first and second halves, respectively, vaulting Manager Peter Vermes’ men back to the top of the West.

But on a night that paid special tribute to the thousands of fans who have made Sporting Kansas City’s milestone sellout streak possible, one player separated himself as the unquestioned man of the match.

Right back Graham Zusi delivered a sterling performance in attack and defense, tallying two assists while contributing to Sporting Kansas City’s league-leading 10th shutout of the regular season. But these numbers do no justice for what the ninth-year veteran accomplished on Saturday night.

As Jason Foster pointed out on Twitter, Zusi did far more than set up goals for Rubio and Gerso. The U.S. international finished with an eye-popping compilation of impressive statistics, making league history in the process.

Graham Zusi vs. FC Dallas on Saturday

  • 2 assists
  • 7 chances created
  • 49 of 50 passes completed (98%)
  • 7 crosses
  • 8 recoveries
  • 3 clearances
  • 2 tackles

So what can we take away from this unprecedented performance? Zusi became the first MLS player in the Opta era (2010-present) with at least two assists, five chances created, 90-percent passing accuracy and two clearances in the same game. That’s not to mention the seven crosses, eight recoveries and two tackles that add further gloss to the two-sided nature of his excellent evening.

In addition to notching this unforeseen single-game feat, Zusi also entered the Sporting Kansas City history books as the club’s game-winning assist leader. His helper to Rubio ultimately proved to be his 24th game-winning assist in the regular season, overtaking Preki for first on the charts.

Sporting KC game-winning assist leaders
(All-time, MLS regular season)

Player GWA
Graham Zusi 24
Preki 23
Chris Klein 16
Benny Feilhaber 12
Davy Arnaud
Josh Wolff
10
10

Saturday’s match saw Zusi continue a pattern of success against FC Dallas. It was his first multi-assist match since May 29, 2015, which happened to be a 4-0 thrashing of Oscar Pareja’s men. Since the start of 2011, Zusi’s 10 combined goals and assists against FC Dallas are tied for second-most in MLS competition. He just so happens to be level with teammate Benny Feilhaber on the list.

Goals and assists vs. FC Dallas
(MLS regular season since 2011)

Player G+A Goals Assists
Robbie Keane 12 5 7
Benny Feilhaber
Graham Zusi
10
10
4
3
6
7
Fredy Montero
Mauro Rosales
8
8
4
3
4
5

In addition to consistently suffering the wrath of Zusi, FC Dallas endured yet another poor night in its proverbial house of horrors. Yesterday's Till Vodka Stat of the Match illustrates just how turbulent Dallas’ travels to Kansas City have been in recent years.

Lastly, we provide an updated look at Sporting Kansas City’s club-record home undefeated run, which hit 22 regular season games on Saturday. The streak is tied for the fourth-longest in MLS history, and Vermes’ side will have the opportunity to ascend further up the list next month.

Longest home unbeaten runs
(MLS regular season history)

Club # Start Stop
Houston Dynamo 30 07/09/11 04/28/13
Real Salt Lake 29 06/06/09 05/14/11
LA Galaxy 23 04/12/14 05/27/15
Sporting KC 22 06/19/16 ?
Columbus Crew SC 22 06/28/08 09/26/09
Portland Timbers 22 04/06/13 05/17/14
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