At his prime, two-ish years ago, Graham Zusi was considered one of the best winger/midfield options for Sporting KC ad the MLS. However, Zusi’s production has fallen since 2012; not dramatically, but noticeably. And the lack of old ‘Zues’, has worried fans for the past two seasons.
This is not to say Zusi isn’t still a quality player. He is. He affects nearly every game he plays positively, and Sporting are still very dependent on him as part of their “core”. We could obviously talk for hours about Zusi’s defensive and possession capabilities, but we will leave that for another time.
The past two seasons Zusi scored 7 goals and 13 assists, with only 2 goals and 5 assists coming in 2015. That production is far from par for Zusi. In 2013 he had 6 goals and 8 assists and in 2012 he had 5 goals and 15 assists (the benchmark we like to hold Zusi to now). The big question is…Will he get back to his consistent production of his 2012 MLS All-star form? We think so.
Why he will:
Zusi only played 1,986minutes in 2015 and 2,151 minutes in 2014. This was due to injuries and international play. He does not seem to be in Mr. Klinsmann’s mind for the COPA America. Assuming injuries do not plague a third season in a row, we think it is safe to say Zusi will be playing more this season. And more healthy play time is a good reason to believe Zusi will pick up his original form.
Why he might not:
On the other hand, Zusi does not have the 2012 Kei Kamara. Whilst Dom is an excellent striker, he does not provide the same target Kei did. Effective in other ways, Dom can still not out jump central defenders like Kamara could. Thus, crosses from the wings must be spot on, rather than just lofted in. We don’t doubt Zusi’s abilities with crosses (minute 2:45 of the highlights below), but the old “Cross-City” mentality of Kansas City died when Kei left. And thus, so did all those Zusi assists.
Why we are hopeful:
While it is no longer “Cross-City” in KC, we still have not seen Zusi get more than 2100 min/25 games in a season since Dom took over up top. We know Zusi can shoot, take defenders 1v1, possess the ball, etc. So maybe it is just time for Zusi to become the 8 goal 8 assists guy. In other words, shoot more Zusi!!! Last year, he scored twice on 28 shots. That’s not a high percentage, but it also isn’t a high shot count. If that shot count increases toward 2 shots per 90 minutes (60-ish shots for the year), we can expect far more goal production from Zeus.
Zusi has the potential to get back to being an MLS Allstar. To his advantage, he should get more game and minutes throughout the season this year. However to his disadvantage, he does not have the aerial dominance of a person like Kei Kamara, and will have to take more shots to score more.
We are confident though! What are your thoughts? Comment below or tweet at us @PitchBlueKC