SKC Talent on Display Internationally

Sporting KC players feature for national teams
by Katherine Rupp   |   Thursday, November 13, 2014

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

It’s the time of year when MLS playoff teams are weaned off until the Final and the teams that either did not progress as far in the playoffs, or those that didn’t make the playoffs at all, re-evaluate and take count of what pros and cons happened during the season. The former is happening for Sporting Kansas City.

As Sporting KC finished as the 5 seed in the Eastern conference, there looks to be quite a bit to improve upon, especially considering 2013 levels of play and ending to the season. However the team did, there were definitely some bright spots with individual players that shone and will hopefully continue to shine in the off-season.

As most know, Graham Zusi and Matt Besler featured on the US national team this summer for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. In addition, Jorge Claros played for Honduras in Brazil.

What’s more, a handful of other players have (or will hopefully) play for their respective national teams in the coming few weeks and into next year when the next FIFA international friendly dates happen.

For instance, one player who has been called up for the recent international games – who many might be surprised, possibly because of the country – is Martin Steuble. The midfielder, who was born and played his entire career in Switzerland up until summer of 2014, played his first minutes for the Philippines in March 2014. Steuble, who is a relatively young player at 25 and most likely has most of his best years ahead of him for his soccer career, would be a significant, steady player – especially if he continues getting callups with the Philippines national team. Regardless of the national team’s FIFA ranking, if Steuble gets more minutes with international play, it most likely will only help – rather than hurt – the cause of his club team, Sporting Kansas City.

In addition to Steuble, Besler, Zusi, and Claros, other Sporting KC players who have joined in on their national teams include Soony Saad for Lebanon, Lawrence Olum for Kenya, and finally, Erik Palmer-Brown for the US U-20 team.

Besler was recently called in to the US friendlies – one to be played in London against Colombia (and World Cup star James Rodriguez) at Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage, and the other in Dublin against LA Galaxy Robbie Keane’s Ireland – whereas midfielder, and World Cup assist-maker for that John Brooks winning header against Ghana, Graham Zusi was not called up and therefore can take time off for the off season. And though Besler was called up, many question the decision to include him in the Colombia and Ireland friendly for the fact of his tiredness of the 2014 year. However, with the professionalism Besler exudes, if he does or doesn’t play in one or either of the games, look for the Sporting KC captain to carry the name of SKC with pride and effort.

One player who has yet to play for a national team and therefore is not on the list of Sporting KC players who have international caps is Dom Dwyer. Many had piqued interest this past year as the England native made comments about wanting to play for the United States if he ever was extended the offer. As many have seen in the recent call ups – not only for the World Cup but for other friendlies after this fall – US coach Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t fearful of bringing in someone who might just be the spark of the team, the catalyst to greater and bigger goals for the US men’s national team. Although Dwyer to the US team could right well be a pipe dream, it certainly is something to think about. As it is, the forward role for the US isn’t growing exponentially with players but rather is taking a winding road through European-based players, those in MLS, NASL, and college. Dwyer would – if he ever would become eligible for the US – be one of those players who could turn the offense into scintillating play.

But for now, even though Dwyer to the US team is only a dream, Sporting Kansas City – as an organization as well as fans – should be proud of the quality of players that play in the city of fountains. With Besler and Zusi, Sporting KC fans of the US team can surely be appreciative of their efforts and play not only throughout the World Cup but also in 2014. And as it looks like, other Sporting KC players are looking to get in on the action of consistently representing national teams with the same pride that they play with the blue kits of Sporting Kansas City.

NEXT UP: January 31 – Sporting Kansas City v. Portland Timbers (Pre-Season Friendly), Kino North Stadium, Tucson, Ariz. 8 p.m. EST, TBD.

Katherine RUPP

Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.