Sporting Kansas City defender Graham Zusi made his record-tying seventh career All-Star appearance as a member of the club on Wednesday, playing the first 45 minutes of a 3-0 defeat to Spanish side Atletico Madrid in the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target.
Zusi, who matches longtime legend Preki with seven All-Star Game nods as a Kansas City player, earned the start at right back on Wednesday at rain-soaked Exploria Stadium in his hometown of Orlando, Florida. His contributions along the backline helped keep an impressive Atletico Madrid side at bay until the 43rd minute Rodrigo Riquelme's clever backheel pass found Marcos Llorente, who finished underneath Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake.
The 32-year-old Zusi exited at halftime and will now rejoin Sporting for Sunday's pivotal showdown at Seattle Sounders FC, slated for 9 p.m. CT on FS1, FOX Deportes, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM. And although his shift for the night was finished, the All-Star Game would pack a few more scintillating moments on the greasy Exploria Stadium pitch.
Boosted by wholesale substitutes in the 56th minute, Atletico doubled their lead on 85 minutes on a knuckling shot from Portuguese teenage sensation Joao Felix. Diego Simeone’s team added their third and final goal in second-half stoppage time as striker Diego Costa collected a Felix long ball over the top. The Spanish forward calmly finished past Nick Rimando, the heralded MLS goalkeeper who will retire this fall after a remarkable 20 seasons in the league.
MLS is now 8-5-3 versus international opposition in the MLS All-Star Game. This was the second match against a club from Spain's La Liga, as the All-Stars lost via penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in 2007. The summer showcase was delayed over half an hour due to inclement weather but nevertheless attracted a zealous sellout crowd of 25,527.
Zusi has now appeared in the last three MLS All-Star Games, having competed in four straight from 2012-2015 before a rare absence in 2016. His seven All-Star Games played since 2012 are the most in Major League Soccer.
MLS All-Star History
(vs. International Club Opponents)