Sporting KC duo selected to U.S. MNT
for pair of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers
Matt Besler and Graham Zusi named to 23-player roster
(March 18, 2013) - Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi were named to the U.S. Men's National Team roster on Monday for a pair of 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, U.S. Soccer announced. Both players joined the U.S. MNT in Denver on Sunday in preparation for matches against Costa Rica at home on Friday and away at Mexico on March 26.
Besler and Zusi are among 23 players selected by U.S. Men's National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who will participate in a media conference call at 2:30 p.m. CT today to preview the upcoming matches and discuss his roster.
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Both Sporting KC players return to the U.S. Men's National Team for a third time this year, including a trip to Honduras last month for the United States' opening match in the Final Round of 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
Besler, 26, made his international debut earlier this year in a scoreless draw against Canada and is one of six defenders -- four who play in MLS -- on the roster. The Overland Park, Kan. native received Best XI honors and was named MLS Defender of the Year in 2012, and was also on the gameday roster for the United States first-ever win on Mexican soil in an international friendly last August at Estadio Azteca.
"It's exciting every time you get the opportunity to play for your country. Now I'm more focused on the team. I just want to go and win the games," Besler said. "I feel like I'm definitely a part of this team and I'm ready to contribute."
Zusi has appeared in each of the United States last four FIFA World Cup qualifiers and has made eight total appearances for the U.S. Men's National Team. The 26-year-old playmaker leads Major League Soccer with two assists in 2013, after leading the League in 2012 with a career-high 15 assists to earn MLS Best XI and All-Star honors.
"It's an honor to be selected again, especially as these two games are very important," Zusi said. "There's very little margin for error because you only have 10 games to qualify. We're going to Colorado looking for all three points."
The U.S. will face Costa Rica at sold-out Dick's Sporting Goods Park on March 22 at 9 p.m. CT. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN, WatchESPN and UniMas. Four days later, the USA seeks its first World Cup qualifying win against Mexico on its home soil. Kickoff from Estadio Azteca is set for 9 p.m. CT, with coverage on ESPN, WatchESPN and Univision.
The U.S. is part of the six-team Hexagonal along with Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico and Panama. The 10-game, round-robin format will continue through Oct. 10 with the top three teams automatically advancing to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The fourth-place team will compete in a two-leg playoff against the champion from the Oceania Confederation.
Besler and Zusi will miss Sporting Kansas City's next match at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday at New England. The Revolution will be without Honduran international Jerry Bengtson.
Please note: When discussing our team, please refer to the club on first reference as Sporting Kansas City or Sporting KC. Single-game tickets are on sale for the first nine matches of the 2013 MLS season at state-of-the-art Sporting Park. Visit Ticketmaster or the Sporting Park box office to secure seats.