Sporting KC Show Podcast: Graham Zusi previews Champions League tilt with Toluca

The Sporting KC Show, held throughout the season on Sports Radio 810 WHB, is now available on Spotify and iTunes. With Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine hosting the weekly program, Sporting fans now have a place to go to catch up on club storylines, player achievements, guest interviews and more.

With a mouthwatering Champions League clash at Children’s Mercy Park just around the corner, a new episode of the Sporting KC Show dropped Tuesday night with hosts Nate Bukaty and Carter Augustine on Sports Radio 810 WHB.

Dishing up a comprehensive preview of Thursday’s battle between Sporting and Toluca, the duo were joined by defender Graham Zusi—a seasoned veteran who is no stranger to high-level international competitions—as well as Dan Lolli, Vice President of Operations at Sporting KC. Lolli and his crew have endured a remarkably busy offseason, installing a new field at Children’s Mercy Park while coping with an oppressively cold and snowy winter.

Zusi and Sporting had a historically short holiday break before jumping into their preseason preparations in Arizona. With the Concacaf Champions League on the immediate horizon, a sense of urgency and a laser-focused mentality has engulfed the camp from day one.

“From the get-go, we knew we had something that we were going after," Zusi said of training for the Champions League. "It’s been one of the best preseasons of my career, for sure."

The 11th-year defender was part of a Sporting side that made its last knockout-round appearance in the Champions League in 2013-14. The team lost to eventual champion Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals, winning the first leg 1-0 at home before losing 5-1 in Mexico City. This time around, Zusi thinks the club is far more prepared to thrive in the competition.

"Simply put, we’re a better team than before. The earlier preseason is putting us in a better position to do well. In the way he has built the team over the last two or three years, (Manager Peter Vermes) has put us in the absolute best position to succeed. It's all been building for this year."

Episode Summary

  • 3:17 – Peter Vermes and Brian Bliss have new technical staff titles. The hosts discuss their respective impacts on the club over the last several years.
  • 6:00 – Sporting’s successful preseason campaign leads them into the Champions League, where they face a huge test against a struggling but dangerous Toluca side.
  • 16:36 – Dan Lolli joins the show, relaying how the stadium operations team has installed a new, world-class pitch during a shortened and snowy offseason.
  • 30:57 – The hosts speak with Graham Zusi, who shares how the players have prepared for Thursday and what it will take for Sporting to defeat Toluca in the Round of 16. 

Listen to the full podcast below.

Tickets for Thursday's 7 p.m. CT showdown are included in Season Ticket Member packages and remain available on as Sporting prepares for its earliest competitive match in team history.

Fans can also stream the match live on or the Yahoo Sports app, while Univision Deportes will broadcast the game in Spanish. Listeners can catch the action on Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.