SKC’s Zusi named to USMNT ahead of World Cup qualifiers

Graham Zusi fills a spot on the USMNT's 24-man roster.
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports/Peter Aiken

When injury led to an open roster spot on the U.S. Men’s National Team in advance of two pivotal World Cup qualifiers, Sporting Kansas City plugged the hole.

Sporting KC defender/midfielder Graham Zusi was named to the U.S. Men’s National Team on Friday as a replacement for Fabian Johnson, who suffered an injury Thursday while playing for his German club Borussia Monchengladbach.

Zusi will play Saturday for Sporting KC against the San Jose Earthquakes, then join the MNT in San Jose ahead of USA-Honduras on March 24. Four days later, the U.S. will travel to take on Panama in Panama City. Sporting KC does not play again until March 31.

The United States approaches these matches with urgency, having lost to Mexico and Costa Rica last November to open the Hexagonal. Eight games remain in CONCACAF’s final qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with the top three finishers automatically advancing to Russia 2018 and the fourth-place finisher meeting an Asian country in a two-legged playoff in November.

Zusi, 30, has earned 44 caps for the U.S. since 2012, recording five goals and six assists.