TUCSON, Ariz. — It’s not new, but now it’s a trend.
Sporting Kansas City and US national team mainstay Graham Zusi is getting even more time at right back in Peter Vermes’ preseason camp, and it could very well stay that way when the regular season begins.
On an episode of ExtraTime Radio last month, Vermes was asked about Zusi’s national team prospects at that position, and the SKC boss responded positively. Citing a conversation he’d had with US national team coach Bruce Arena, who noted that Zusi’s best chance of making the team would be at right back, Vermes said that he endorsed Zusi’s defensive ability, as well as his willingness to play any role that is asked of him.
And on Saturday, following a 3-0 preseason win over the New York Red Bulls, Vermes spoke to MLSsoccer.com about Zusi’s second appearance of the week at his new position.
"[It was] something that we did last year, and we’re probably going to continue to do for however long it continues to serve our purpose,” the SKC coach said.
Vermes went on to praise Zusi’s quality on the ball, which gives him the ability to play almost any position on the field.
“He can just play."
Zusi himself is feeling good about his new role, saying after Saturday’s match, “I’m getting more and more comfortable as we go. Every day is a learning experience for me. I’m getting more comfortable with the back line and the guys in front of me.”
It seems that he’s also on the same page with Arena about his national team prospects.
“As of now, I think this is probably my best opportunity to be in with that team,” Zusi said. “I think that’s the way Bruce is looking at it, and I’ve kind of accepted that, and ... shifted my mentality. And I’m ready to take that on.”
Zusi and Sporting conclude Desert Diamond Cup play on Saturday before opening the regular season on March 4th at D.C. United (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE).