All-Star: Graham Zusi's early substitution a precautionary measure ahead of big RBNY tilt
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Graham Zusi's MLS All-Star turn in front of his home crowd ended earlier than he'd hoped. Now he has to wait and see whether he'll be able to play for his club in an important Eastern Conference match this weekend.
The Sporting Kansas City and US national team midfielder had to come out with quad tightness in the 24th minute of AS Roma's 3-1 win over the All-Stars on Wednesday night at Sporting Park, although he and Sporting manager Peter Vermes – who also coached the All-Stars – both characterized the move as precautionary.
“He just got a little bit of a cramp in his leg,” Vermes said in the postmatch news conference. “He said, 'Listen, I think maybe I should come off. What do you think?' and I said, 'If you're hurt, let's go. Let's get you off.' So we'll have to assess it tomorrow, probably. But it's more just tightness than anything else.”
Zusi also took a cautious approach to discussing his condition.
“We don't really know what it is yet, so I don't want to say anything that's not truth,” he said. “We'll see more tomorrow.”
Sporting, who lead the East by one point over New York and Montreal, host the Red Bulls on Saturday (6:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“I didn't want to make it worse,” Zusi said, “with as important as the game is on Saturday.”
Still, he acknowledged the disappointment of having to leave the pitch early.
“You don't want to come out 20 minutes into the game, especially in your hometown,” he said. “It's a bit of a bummer, but I think they can understand that Saturday's game is a bit more important than tonight.”
This is the second straight year that a Sporting player had to leave the All-Star game early due to injury. Last year, center back Aurélien Collin – who went the full 90 on Wednesday against Roma – sustained facial fractures when he ran into Chelsea's Michael Essien in the first half of the All-Stars' 3-2 victory at PPL Park. The breaks sidelined him for two league matches.
When he saw Zusi come out early, Collin said, “For me, it was a little bit scary. But he was very smart about it, very wise to go out, because the main part is Saturday night against New York.:”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.