KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Graham Zusi isn't eligible for the United States' next World Cup qualifier, but Sporting Kansas City fans shouldn't expect to see him make a quick dash back for Wednesday's US Open Cup match.
Zusi, who has assists in the Americans' last two matches – including their 2-1 qualifying victory on Friday in Jamaica, the nation's first qualifying win there – is suspended for Tuesday night's Hexagonal meeting with Panama in Seattle (10 pm ET; ESPN, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com) because of caution accumulation.
Even with forward Soony Saad's early return from Lebanese national team duty, the result of a mix-up in his FIFA paperwork, Sporting's roster is thin from international absence and loans going into Wednesday's fourth-round Cup match against USL PRO side Orlando City SC.
But their star winger, who has emerged as Jurgen Klinsmann's top playmaker on the right side, will remain with the national team to continue training for next week's Hex match against Honduras.
“Sure, it goes through your mind,” Sporting manager Peter Vermes said after Monday's training session. “But you've also got to take into consideration that he's got to get on a plane. He's got to fly here. Then he's got to train a couple of days. Then he's got to fly back. That's just putting so many more miles on a guy who's already got a lot of miles.
“As much as I'd like to have him here, I've just got to be really intelligent about it.”
Sporting center back Matt Besler is projected to be in Klinsmann's XI against Panama, which would give him his third straight start and fourth in five outings with the USMNT.
“Those guys are playing well,” Vermes said. “They have a routine within the team, and when you keep getting called for that starting lineup you start to build that level of confidence. I think they've taken their opportunities really, really well.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.