(October 11, 2014) – Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi were added to the United States Men’s National Team roster today ahead of Tuesday’s international friendly against Honduras, U.S. Soccer announced. Both players will join the U.S. MNT for the first time since playing all four matches for the United States at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer.
After a 1-1 draw against Ecuador on Friday, the U.S. now hosts Honduras on Tuesdayat FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas and ESPN Deportes Radio.
“Honduras has proved that they are one of the top teams in CONCACAF,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “As we begin our preparation for the Gold Cup, this is a great opportunity for our players to see the type of opponent they will face next summer.”
Honduras — whose roster features Sporting KC midfielder Jorge Claros — competed in the last two FIFA World Cups, the first time in team history where the country has reached the tournament in consecutive cycles. The United States holds a 14-4-3 lifetime record against the Catrachos, including an 11-2-2 record on home soil. The teams last met in the semifinal of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, where the USA collected a 3-1 win on the way to capturing the tournament title.
No players in the men’s national team pool have more appearances for the United States in 2014 than Besler and Zusi, who have each earned nine caps this year. The duo helped Sporting KC secure the team’s fourth consecutive postseason berth with a 2-0 win over Chicago on Friday and will re-join their club teammates in time to be available for Saturday’s match at Philadelphia.
An Overland Park, Kansas native, Besler has anchored a Sporting KC defense that has allowed the fewest shots in Major League Soccer this year. He was named captain of the reigning MLS Cup champions prior to the 2014 season and signed a Designated Player contract in July. Besler has made 159 MLS appearances (including postseason) with two goals and seven assists since being drafted by Kansas City in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft out of Notre Dame.
The 27-year-old centerback debuted for the U.S. in January 2013 and has 21 career international appearances. Besler has twice collected MLS Best XI (2012, 2013) honors and is a three-time MLS All-Star (2011, 2013, 2014). He was awarded MLS Defender of the Year in 2012 before being named a finalist again in 2013 and was honored as Sporting Kansas City’s Defensive Player of the Year each of the past three seasons.
“As always, I am very excited to represent my country. It’s always an honor when you get an opportunity,” Besler said. “I’m looking forward to playing with the guys again and also meeting some of the new guys who have been called in. I’m also looking forward to playing against Honduras. They are becoming a rival of ours and it’s always a good test.”
Zusi, an MLS All-Star for the third straight year, is leading Sporting Kansas City in assists for a fourth consecutive season with eight in 2014. He is the only player in Major League Soccer with five or more goals and seven or more assists in each of the last four seasons. Now in his sixth professional season, his 39 career assists rank third most in club history and his 22 goals are 10th on the team’s all-time scoring chart.
Taken in the second round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft as a two-time national champion at the University of Maryland, Zusi was named to the MLS Best XI each of the last two years and was an MLS MVP finalist in 2012 after leading the League with a career-high 15 assists. He has been voted Sporting Kansas City’s Most Valuable Player each of the last two years and signed a Designated Player contract with the club in July.
The 28-year-old has earned 27 career international appearances with three goals and six assists in a U.S. Men’s National Team jersey. Zusi contributed assists in back-to-back group stage games against Ghana and Portugal at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
“This will be the United States final home game of the year and I’m thrilled that I have the chance to be a part of it. Being back in our nation’s colors is an incredible honor for me personally.” Zusi said. “There are locker room bragging rights to be won against Jorge (Claros) and Honduras.”
The U.S. Men’s National Team is 6-3-3 in 2014 and ranked No. 17 in the latest FIFA rankings. Tuesday’s friendly is the penultimate match of the calendar year with the 2014 finale to be played at Ireland on Nov. 18.
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