KC Soccer Renaissance Shows Results in USMNT

Sporting KC is fast becoming a premier club for US National Team development
by Brandon Arendt   |   Friday, April 05, 2013

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

Ask anyone in Kansas City and they will tell you that for the past 3 years there has been a “soccer revolution” taking place.

Ever since the opening of Sporting Park in June 2011, life has just kept improving for Sporting Kansas City. From the waves of sellout games to the success on the field, Sporting KC’s reputation has only increased.

One portion of the revolution that has remained relatively unnoticed is Sporting’s budding role as one of the premier clubs in MLS for developing talent for the United States Men’s National Team.

Since USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann took the helm in 2011, players from the Sporting KC roster have been making their respective cases for why they should be in the USA lineups.

Currently, there are 6 players on Sporting KC’s roster with international experience playing for the United States, including Teal Bunbury (4 caps), CJ Sapong (2 caps), Matt Besler (2 caps), Benny Feilhaber (40 caps), Graham Zusi (10 caps) and Bobby Convey (46 caps). Even if you remove Bobby Convey from that list, as his international playing days are almost certainly over, that still leaves a surprising amount of international talent to be developed in Kansas City.

Let’s take a look at the players that are on the fringes of the USMNT, starting with the striker duo of Sapong and Bunbury. Granted neither of them have made an appearance since the friendly against Panama in 2012, but both of these players are young enough that they can continue to improve and can expect to have more opportunities to impress Klinsmann.

Benny Feilhaber, who was once a US stalwart, dating all the way back to 2007 where he saw time in the majority of the team’s 2010 World Cup matches, is a strange case as he is a bit of an outsider looking in. However, Klinsmann saw fit to give him an additional cap in both 2012 and early in 2013. During his stay, Klinsmann made it clear to Benny that he’s close to breaking into the team again and simply needs to find the consistency that eluded him in 2012 club play.

Another tricky case for the USMNT is newcomer Besler. Even though he lacks the international experience of other centerbacks in the USA player pool, he played an extremely instrumental role in a historic draw against Mexico in their stadium fortress, Estadio Azteca, in only his 2nd cap with the national team. Expect Besler to get more caps sooner rather than later.

Without a doubt the brightest star in the SKC lineup has to be Zusi. In a mere 10 appearances, Zusi has solidified his spot as an important starter for the national team. He even notched appearances in the last 7 World Cup Qualifiers. His dynamic play on the right wing has been vital to a USA National Team that has been missing its all-time leading scorer in Landon Donovan.

One thing is for certain, Klinsmann likes what he sees in Sporting Kansas City’s high pressure, attacking style. And as long as manager Peter Vermes, who was just elected into the National Soccer Hall of Fame, is at the helm, Sporting KC’s role with the USA will only continue to improve.

NEXT UP: April 5 – Sporting KC vs. DC United, Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kans. 8:30 p.m. EST, MLS Live.

Brandon ARENDT

Milwaukee Tech
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Swansea City
Brandon is a Milwaukee native and the current Sporting Kansas City columnist for Soccer Newsday. He is an avid gamer, unabashed beer snob and has what can best be described as an "unhealthy" addiction to soccer.