Matt Besler, Graham Zusi sign Designated Player deals to stay with Sporting Kansas City

U.S. internationals Matt Besler and Graham Zusi have committed their futures to MLS by signing DP deals with Sporting Kansas City.

Gary Rohman/Gary Rohman-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Besler and Graham Zusi committed their long-term futures to Sporting Kansas City by signing Designated Player contracts on Saturday.

The decision to award both U.S. internationals with lucrative contracts ends any speculation about their futures with the club and prolongs their successful relationship with the club for the next several years.

“Getting these deals completed is extremely beneficial for the organization and the two players,” Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said in a release. “Graham (Zusi) and Matt (Besler) have both proven over the past almost six seasons that they are core players within this club. They have had a tremendous impact on creating a winning culture and these agreements keep us on the path of attaining our goals and expectations. I want to thank the ownership group for their continued vision and commitment to securing both players for the long term.”


Besler generated significant interest from overseas after his performances in Brazil, but he ultimately rejected those overtures to stay with his hometown side. His deal — combined with the decision to rework Zusi’s contract at the same time – guarantees the bedrock of the MLS Cup holders for the foreseeable future and highlights the league’s commitment to keeping its best players on home soil.

“This is a dream come to true to know that I’ll be playing my whole career in Kansas City,” Besler said in a release. “A lot of factors went into this decision, but the ownership and the great fans played a huge part. Now, there is a responsibility to go forward to keep pushing this team farther and farther.”

It is a visible display of intent from Sporting, a club that has risen to the top of MLS by cultivating the talent within its ranks. The club acted quickly to reward Besler and Zusi for their achievements despite signing both players to previous contract extensions to reflect their roles in the club’s success. This decision to hand them DP deals represents the natural next step in their relationship and underscores the desire to keep the core of this group in place for the foreseeable future.

"This is where I have always wanted to be," Zusi said in a release. "I would like to thank Peter Vermes and the Sporting Club ownership for working with me toward this long-term contract and I look forward to continuing my career in the best stadium in MLS in front of the best fans in MLS. I have always respected players who have played their entire career with one team and I look forward to a long career in Kansas City."

Besler and Zusi increase the list of American DPs to nine. Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (D.C. United) and Chris Wondolowski (San Jose) are also classified as DPs under MLS rules.