Coach Vermes explains that Zusi was taken off early to ensure fitness for crunch match against RBNY.
Fans inside Sporting Park on Wednesday night may well have had their hearts in their mouths after witnessing home-favourite Graham Zusi being substituted after 20 minutes, but Zusi and Peter Vermes have both confirmed it was strictly cautionary.
Sporting Kansas City’s Zusi, playing in the All-Star game in front of his own fans, came off early with complaints about a ‘tight quad’.
“He just got a little bit of a cramp in his leg,” SKC and All-Star head coach Vermes said to MLSSoccer.com. “He said, ‘Listen, I think maybe I should come off. What do you think?’ and I said, ‘If you’re hurt, let’s go. Let’s get you off.’ So we’ll have to assess it tomorrow, probably. But it’s more just tightness than anything else.”
Just about everyone associated with the entire SKC organisation will be understanding of the scenario, with Zusi a crucial player ahead of Saturday’s huge Eastern Conference match against the New York Red Bulls, who trail conference leaders SKC by only one point.
“We don’t really know what it is yet, so I don’t want to say anything that’s not truth,” Zusi said. “We’ll see more tomorrow. I didn’t want to make it worse, with as important as the game is on Saturday.”
Zusi showed great maturity after what was surely a huge disappointment in leaving the pitch early in the MLS’ showpiece match: “You don’t want to come out 20 minutes into the game, especially in your hometown,” he said. “It’s a bit of a bummer, but I think they can understand that Saturday’s game is a bit more important than tonight.”