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What a match from Kansas City’s Graham Zusi

Mar 2, 2013, 6:35 PM EDT

Zusi head shot

Sporting Kansas City surely has some work ahead in sorting out a midfield that needs plenty of sorting out.

But it was Graham Zusi to the rescue as the United States national team attacker put in an early bid for MLS Player of the Week, guiding his Sporting KC bunch to three points in a match where the club was surely not at its best, 3-1, over Philadelphia in Major League Soccer’s first 2013 contest.

SKC’s rebuilt midfield – not one of the SKC central triangle from 2012 was in his same spot for the 2013 opener – was an absolute mess to start this one. They could never gain a toehold in the middle with the ball. Without, SKC was worse.

Minus any pressure in the right spots in midfield against a motivated bunch from PPL Park, the visitors were completely exposed to balls over the top for Union striker Sebastian Le Toux, who was finding all the gaps and all the room behind the back line.

(MORE: Sporting KC downs Philadelphia, 3-1)

SKC came close to being overwhelmed, and Philly Union men will certainly rue the missed first-half chances.

But this is what difference-makers do.

Zusi scored the first goal on a quality, well-placed finish, a timely and invaluable equalizer just before the half. (With lots of help from a terrific header set-up by new DP Claudio Bieler.)

Zusi’s swell free kick – he’s known for those, you know – arranged the visitor’s second goal, with a big assist from some bad Union defending and unsure goalkeeping. (You Union fans feel free to stop us if you’ve heard all that before.)

And Zusi had those paw prints all over SKC’s third goal, making a big run to launch the attack and then supplying a telling ball into the penalty area, which Bieler turned into the late insurance strike, and his first MLS goal.

All the while, by the way, most of the effective SKC attacks had little to do with new midfield addition Benny Feilhaber, nor with left wing Bobby Convey, both of whom need big years to get their careers pointed the right way again. (Convey did help start the first goal, in fairness.)

But whenever Zusi drifted inside from his (sort-of) right wing spot, that’s when SKC’s attack really tended to work.

Zusi generated a little MVP chatter in 2012; he’ll generate a lot more with afternoons ahead like this one.

Match highlights are here:

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  1. crossmlk - Mar 2, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    The first goal was totally set up by Convey’s hard work to win the ball, get down the wing and then hit a good cross to Bieler.

  2. tylerbetts - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    That second goal … geez. Anyone who complains about the (lack of ) marking quality on Jozy’s league goals should be lining up to scream about that one.

    Still … it was really good to see him get off to a good start. Need him clicking, confident, and in-form heading into 3/22.

    • joeyt360 - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Can’t really compare Altidore, who, as the big target forward is the very first guy you would want to keep track of near the box to Rosell, who is a holding midfielder and about the fifth choice to latch onto the end of one of those.

  3. pensfan603 - Mar 2, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    The philly de was kind of lacking at the moments that he scored but SKC took advantage of what chances they were given.

  4. bobinkc - Mar 3, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    Complain you all may about how SKC won the game; but the end result is we won. It doesn’t really make any difference in the long run who scores the goals, just that they are scored. Please note that Zusi took the rebound, kept his head up, zeroed on the goal, and put ‘er in there. We here are all happy for all 3 of the lads that scored, regardless of the fact that none of them should have scored anything.

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