SKC Feels Pressure as Zusi, Besler Leave For USMNT Camp

The pair of long-time Kansas City players will vie for spots in Klinsmann’s 23-man roster
by Skylar Rolstad   |   Tuesday, May 20, 2014

State of SKC - column on Sporting KC (SKC) & the Kansas City soccer scene.

The United States Men’s National Team has a difficult situation at its backline, but at least it doesn’t look anything like Sporting Kansas City’s.

Kansas City did well to get a goal back in an unlucky 2-1 loss to Chicago on Sunday. Sporting played a third of the match a man down and in an unfamiliar 5-3-2 formation due to personnel issues.

Sporting gave 17-year-old Erik Palmer-Brown a start at centerback, making him the youngest ever player to start an MLS match as a defender. Palmer-Brown was the only true central defender on the field in the match. This was due to the absences of Matt Besler, Lawrence Olum (international duty), and Aurelien Collin (injury).  Olum will return for SKC’s next game but Collin is not expected to.

Sporting’s American internationals received a less-than-ideal sendoff for the 2014 World Cup with a disheartening 2-1 loss to Philadelphia Union. Graham Zusi and Matt Besler will be gone for over a month for the United States’ 2014 World Cup campaign. 

Besler looks to take advantage of the national team’s ambiguous central defender position, with very few in-form options at central defender and fellow expected starter Omar Gonzalez fighting an injury. Besler said of the roster inclusion, “I’m excited to get called in.  It’s a huge opportunity and I look forward to joining the team. There’s quite a bit of work individually and as a team. I’m looking forward to it.” 

As for his mentality coming into camp, Besler said, “The mentality is to try to win a spot… As a team we will try and come together and peak at the right time, try and play our best soccer going into the World Cup.”

Zusi will also fight to win a spot, but at a much more competitive area, as he vies for a spot on the wing and will compete with the likes of Landon Donovan, Fabian Johnson, Julian Green and Mix Diskerud.

These 2 SKC players leave the team ahead of its match against Toronto FC on Friday. After Palmer-Brown’s red card in the 64th minute Sunday and Collin’s nagging hamstring injury, Sporting will have to deploy another makeshift back line, however a capable Lawrence Olum is expected to be available. Defensive midfielder Uri Rosell may also be available after being out for a week due to injury.

NEXT UP: May 23 - Sporting Kansas City vs. Toronto FC, Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kansas. 8:30 p.m. EST, NBC Sports.


Univ. of Kansas
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
AC Milan
A student at the University of Kansas. He writes for the Sporting Kansas City club column for Soccer Newsday and is a regular at Sporting Park. His passion for soccer can best be described as unhealthy.