Gary Rohman/Sporting KC-USA TODAY Sports
On Saturday during halftime of the Seattle Sounders-Tottenham Hotspurs friendly on ESPN2, Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler and Graham Zusi talked about their contract extensions. Moments before, ESPN announced that both Besler and Zusi signed contract extension that made them designated players through the 2018 Major League Soccer season. This is good news for not only Sporting KC fans, but also for the league . Two talented players and one local player decided to continue playing with SKC instead of heading abroad.
This news is nothing but good news. Sporting KC keep two key players to their teams current success and turnaround of their franchise. One of the reasons Kansas City Wizards rebranding into Sporting KC worked was because of these two players. Yes, much more led to their successful rebrand like building their own soccer specific stadium, but Besler and Zusi were apart of the Kansas City franchise transformation. Attendance wise, the pre-Sporting KC days so the team averaging 10,000 fans to reaching record attendance in the 20,000 fan range this season.
Additionally, Besler is a local player that has progressed in his 137 MLS game appearances with Sporting. Likewise, Besler’s status as a local high school product and being a member of the US Men’s National team during the 2014 World Cup makes his decision even sweeter. A local product decided to remain close to his soccer roots instead of taking his talents elsewhere.
With Besler and Zusi both agreeing to contract extensions, it is also good news for MLS. Two faces of the league’s 2013 MLS Cup winners staying in the league shows a clear shift. Before in MLS, star and key players to franchises packed up and left the league. Now, key players are remaining with their respective squads. We saw this last year when Omar Gonzalez re-signed with the LA Galaxy and I believe this pattern will continue.
More from MLS
- Coming to America – a game-changer by the name of Lionel Messi
- Lionel Messi set to join MLS side Inter Miami
- Canadian MLS clubs split points in Matchweek 5
- Herrera aims to erase memories of injury-prone debut season
- Matchday 4 Canadian MLS recap
Lastly, I think Besler and Zusi’s contract extensions are good for USMNT as well. I don’t buy into the concept that going to a European soccer team in leagues like EPL, La Liga, or Bundesliga automatically allow a player’s career to develop and progress further. Look at players like Brek Shea or Jozy Altidore where they saw very little playing time and development of their career at all. Yes, Altidore was still apart of the 2014 World Cup roster for USMNT, but his move to Sunderland did not help his career one bit.
By staying with Sporting KC, they are guaranteed playing time and allow them the opportunity to progress. Likewise, it is great for USMNT players to play in the country’s highest league. This also allows US soccer fans to watch their national stars locally as well whether it be at the stadium or on television. This will allow fans to stay familiar with how US soccer stars are doing on their respective club teams.
Overall, Besler and Zusi’s contract extenstion is just the beginning of similar things to happen throughout this year and next season. With Collection Bargaining Agreement expiring at the end of the season, MLS and the players’ association will need to agree to a new CBA. One of the factors to watch is how high the salary cap is expanding and how that will affect re-signing players like Besler and Zusi that are key to their team and club.