On This Day presented by UMKC takes daily strolls down memory lane and celebrates memorable moments in Sporting Kansas City history. As one of Major League Soccer's proud charter members, Sporting has a decorated past full of thrilling victories, amazing goals, momentous off-the-field developments and more. This series pays tribute to these specific instances, turning back the clocks while treating fans to nostalgia and club history lessons. For more, visit SportingKC.com/OnThisDay.
Six years ago today, the two most accomplished players in Sporting Kansas City history helped the United States Men's National Team to victory in a tune-up for the world's biggest sporting event.
On the first day of June in 2014, Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and the U.S. MNT defeated Turkey by a 2-1 scoreline in their penultimate friendly leading up to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Besler started and played 45 minutes in central defense, exiting at halftime with the Americans up 1-0, while Zusi logged 69 minutes in a starting role on the right side of midfield.
A capacity crowd at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, saw the hosts score goals on both sides of halftime, with Fabian Johnson's 26th-minute strike followed by a 52nd-minute effort from Clint Dempsey. Turkey's 90th-minute penalty kick via Selcuk Inan proved inconsequential as the U.S. prevailed against their European counterparts.
The Sporting Kansas City duo went on to play an instrumental role for the U.S. MNT at the 2014 World Cup. Besler started all four matches, earning praise for his defensive performances alongside center backs John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez. Zusi also appeared in all four games, starting three, and tallied two group stage assists—the first in a 2-1 win over Ghana and the second in a 2-2 draw against Portugal.
The U.S. would finish second in their group behind eventual world champion Germany and suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 extra-time loss to Belgium in the Round of 16.
Besler and Zusi, who rank first and second in all-time appearances for Sporting, respectively, were U.S. MNT mainstays from 2013-2017. Zusi has notched five goals in 55 senior caps, while Besler's lone goal in 47 senior appearances came on Sept. 2, 2016 at St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the same day his daughter Parker was born in Kansas City.