Sporting KC: Graham Zusi named to Fan XI MLS All Star squad

Sporting KC defender Graham Zusi. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Sporting KC defender Graham Zusi. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) /

Sporting KC and USMNT defender Graham Zusi was named to the fan-voted eleven players of the MLS All Star team that will compete against Real Madrid later this summer.

It has been a dominant year for the Sporting KC defense, and that has paid off for at least one member of the team. SKC’s Graham Zusi has been named to the Fan XI squad of the MLS All Star team. That means he’ll be on the pitch when the MLS stars take on Real Madrid in an exhibition later this summer.

The rest of the 24-man roster will be named later this summer. It is sure to include a number of other Sporting KC players, especially in the defensive half. Kansas City still holds the reigns in the MLS Western Conference, and has been a force to deal with this year.

Graham Zusi has been a major part of that as the Sporting defense is among the absolute best in the league right now. That’s nothing new for SKC fans who have gotten used to seeing stellar defensive performances.

An All Star Game Like No Other

The MLS certainly knows how to make their all star game interesting. Whereas the NFL struggles to get any viewership for the Pro Bowl, and the MLB and NBA games are more popular for the skills challenges, the MLS puts a real focus on the game itself. By challenging a team like Real Madrid, the MLS gives fans something to watch.

While it has grown in popularity, soccer is still well behind its contemporaries in terms of viewership. The American public simply recognizes that US soccer is not on par with the more storied leagues of Europe, South American, and our neighbor Mexico. However, it is getting better.

To try and showcase the improvements in American soccer, the MLS puts their all stars up against top teams from around the world. Playing against storied programs like Real Madrid and Manchester United shows the world that US-based talent is getting much better.

Who Else Will Make The Cut?

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There are quite a few players on the Sporting KC roster that could make a claim at being an all star. Of course, that mostly comes on the defensive side. Both Matt Besler and Ike Opara have had strong years and could be in the mix as defenders.

Tim Melia has been especially outstanding in goal for SKC. The veteran keeper has allowed just 14 goals on the year, while saving 60 shots so far. His .7 goals allowed average is easily the best in all of MLS this year. If Melia is somehow left of the MLS All Star roster, it would be a ridiculous snub.

Unfortunately, it will be hard to argue that any of Sporting KC’s strikers should be on the roster. Sporting has struggled to score goals this year, and even the vaunted Dom Dwyer has been pretty quiet. The team’s top scorer is Gerso Fernandes, but he is well down on the list.

Sporting KC has put together a strong season so far this year. This is a team that has championship aspirations for 2017, and they have been playing like it. It’s good to see that pay off for someone like Graham Zusi who has certainly earned his spot on the MLS All Star roster.