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What will Besler and Zusi’s DP deals mean for Major League Soccer?

Jul 20, 2014, 12:35 PM EST

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On Saturday evening at half time of the Seattle Sounders vs. Tottenham Hotspur friendly at CenturyLink, Major League Soccer received a huge boost.

Sporting Kansas City announced that both of their U.S. internationals, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, had agreed long-term Designated Player contracts and will remain in KC. That is massive.

[RELATED: Besler, Zusi sign new SKC deals]

First off, Besler had up to 10 European clubs chasing his signature after a stellar World Cup at the heart of the USA’s defense. Speaking earlier this week, Besler confirmed that Sunderland and Fulham had bid for him, while the likes of Aston Villa, Stuttgart and QPR were linked. Zusi had also been linked with a foreign switch, as training stints overseas has made people aware of the Floridians talent. As Dorothy once said famously in the Wizard of Oz: there’s no place like home.

Besler and Zusi have grown up in KC. They have been the shining lights in the clubs resurgence. They are stars of MLS.

To lose both of them overseas this summer would have been what many SKC fans would’ve expected. When you look around the U.S. national team, guys likes Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Geoff Cameron, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley plus others, they all hopped off the MLS train after a few seasons for the riches and fame of Europe. Besler and Zusi aren’t following them down that route.

Why should they dispose of the stardom, success and familiarity they enjoy in KC for a new challenge abroad? After all, KC are the reigning MLS champions and the club is one of the major success stories in the league. Some will question both players’ ambition and sat they should head to Europe to test themselves at a higher level, but if it isn’t the right situation for them to move… why would they?

Yes, they would likely make more money playing in Europe. However they are getting bumper DP deals to stay in the league and help MLS’ progression. If they head to a top-flight team in England or Germany, were they going to play regularly or be cast aside like many other Americans who have fled overseas? Who knows. We know that in KC they will be playing week in, week out and from the amount of MLS players who shone for the U.S. at the World Cup, we now know Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t afraid to throw players from the domestic league into the team. That likely had a huge part in both players’ decision.

Both players arrived as rookies together in 2009. Besler is a hometown boy who now captains SKC and his family took in Zusi when he made the move from Florida. The two have remained best buds since and have surged into the national team together from the top-class foundation given to them by Sporting. They are a package. A glimmering, glamorous and majestic package who are blazing a trail that future MLS stars to follow.

Sure, plenty of American youngsters will spurn MLS and head to Europe, these deals may not change that. However it does show plenty out there that you don’t have to go overseas to play for the U.S. national team. You don’t have to go overseas to gain the fortune. With the increased revenue from sold-out stadiums, TV moneys and sponsorship deals, it’s right here in MLS. Years from now, we may look back on Besler and Zusi’s decision to stay in MLS as one of the biggest moments in the league’s modern history.

Trailblazers. Trendsetters… Besler and Zusi are two dudes who are getting paid big bucks to become stars for a team they love, in a city they love.

You can’t put a price on that.

  1. jpi75 - Jul 20, 2014 at 7:13 PM

    Is there any projection of how much the new TV deal will increase roster salaries?

  2. pmacd82 - Jul 20, 2014 at 7:17 PM

    I’m fine with it as long as MLS invests in talent with their TV money increasing competition in the league over the next few years

  3. jbq2 - Jul 20, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    Besler is just not that good. His upper body strength is not impressive. He has nice size and heads the ball well on defense. However against Belgium, he plainly fell down and his man went down to set up the second and eventually winning goal. It is just hard to tell how good Zusi really is. It is obvious that Klinnsman does not think that he is tough enough. He wants Black players with street smart aggression to run his team. In his view, Zusi is just one more weak white bois.

    • dwbodine - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:23 AM

      What the hell kind of racist BS is THAT??!!! Klinsmann obviously thought enough about both of these guys and their play in KC to include them on the first-team side ahead of Clarence Goodson, Maurice Edu, Michael Parkhurst or Landon Donovan (all MLS omissions, and Edu is black BTW) so that point is even stupid. Go burn a cross on your front lawn and shut TF up.

  4. dwbodine - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:26 AM

    To me, this says – yes we got interest from a bunch of clubs in Europe, but no real good looks at first-team action anywhere we really wanted to be. When the next WC rolls around both will be 31 and most likely only Besler will make it.

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