Grounded Zusi handles Sporting duties first, USMNT later
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Graham Zusi would like to think he's earned a call-up for the US national team's upcoming pair of World Cup qualifiers. But between now and then, there's still club business on the docket for Sporting Kansas City's star midfielder.
“I haven't heard anything yet,” Zusi said after Sporting's training session on Monday. “All I can control is what I'm doing out here with my club. If the opportunity comes, then great.”
Zusi is on a roll with Sporting, who lead the East by five points and clinched a playoff berth with Friday night's 2-0 win over Chicago.
He scored both goals in that game, giving him five on the year and matching his single-season high from 2011, and his 14 assists this season tie him for the league lead with LA's Landon Donovan.
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“I've been playing well,” Zusi said. “I'm happy with the way I've been playing, but who knows?”
Sporting manager Peter Vermes, for one, would be surprised if Zusi isn't in Jurgen Klinsmann's camp for the Oct. 12 match on the road against Antigua & Barbuda and the Oct. 16 qualifier against Guatemala, which will take place at Sporting’s Livestrong Park home.
“I expect it, yeah,” Vermes said on Monday. “I don't want to put any pressure on Jurgen or any of the national team people, but I would expect it. The guy's in form and he's playing very, very well.”
And Zusi's selection, Vermes said, would have nothing to do with the game being played at LSP.
“I can tell you that most coaches don't think that way,” he said. “They're going to take the best guys that can help them get the result. They're not going to do the sentimental thing. You're going to take guys based on form, and his form is very good right now.”
Of course, Zusi has already proven he can succeed at the international level, from his first call-up in January to a solid starting performance in the Nats' 1-0 win last month in qualifying play against Jamaica.
“That last game was a coming-out party for him,” Vermes said. “That really made the statement for him that he can play at that level – and not only play at that level but have a real impact on the game.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.