The 2020 MLS SuperDraft is just around the corner, with the first and second rounds on Thursday followed by the third and fourth rounds next Monday, Jan. 13.
Currently holding the No. 58 overall pick in the third round and the No. 84 pick in the fourth round, Sporting Kansas City will watch Thursday’s draft activities come and go—barring any sort of transaction that sees Manager Peter Vermes’ side move up in the pecking order.
Given their position, Sporting will hope to orchestrate a late-draft steal—finding that overlooked player who can ultimately develop into a first-team contributor.
Granted, finding players in the SuperDraft who blossom into week-to-week contributors in MLS can be difficult. But don't think it can't be done.
There are plenty of examples throughout MLS history of selections who carve out lengthy and impactful professional careers. With the 2020 draft on the horizon, MLSsoccer.com took a look back at some of the greatest steals in the event's history.
Among them was Sporting Kansas City star Graham Zusi.
Inarguably one of the club’s greatest and most accomplished players all-time, Zusi wasn't exactly a heralded prospect when he arrived in Kansas City from the University of Maryland as a second-round SuperDraft pick in 2009. Twenty-two players, including Kansas City’s first-round selection Matt Besler, were taken ahead of him during that fateful January day in St. Louis, Missouri.
Since then, Zusi has pieced together a remarkable career highlighted by seven MLS All-Star selections—tied for the most in team history—four major championships in a Sporting uniform and 55 caps for the United States Men’s National Team. He has also showcased impressive versatility, emerging as an elite right back in 2017 after starring as a central midfielder and winger earlier in his Sporting tenure.
In 11 seasons with Sporting across all competitions, Zusi has amassed 328 appearances, 285 starts, 26,177 minutes and 80 assists—all of which rank second in club history. He has also bagged 31 goals while earning 2011 MLS Breakout Player of the Year honors and MLS Best XI accolades in 2012 and 2013. He has been named an MLS All-Star in seven of the last eight seasons.
Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft will be conducted during a jointly produced MLS and ESPN show that begins at 11 a.m. CT on Thursday. Rounds 3 and 4 will be conducted via conference call four days later.