KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City spoiled a 13-year playoff streak for the Seattle Sounders in their 1-0 win in their final home game of 2022 on Sunday.
Veteran defender Graham Zusi played 78 minutes in his return to the starting lineup after recovering from an injury.
The 36-year-old was subbed out for 19-year-old defender Kayden Pierre, who filled in for Zusi during his absence, in what seemed like a passing of the torch to the future of the position.
Zusi, who is finishing up his 14th season in the MLS, exited the field on the far side and made his way around the stadium applauding the home fans.
“These fans, through thick and thin, have always been there,” Zusi said. “I can’t show enough appreciation for them. I feel like I just have a special bond with the city so just a thank you on my side and hopefully the way I play and I guess the effort I give shows my appreciation for them and they can see that through that work.”
He received an emotional standing ovation from the SKC faithful in what seemed like his final steps at Children’s Mercy Park, but the veteran said he’s not finished.
“Not done though, that’s for sure,” Zusi said. “As much as this year has been a little bit frustrating for us, we’re going to use all that as energy in this offseason to put in the work and make sure that we’re not in that same situation.”
Zusi signed a one-year deal last offseason to remain with the club through 2022 and will be a free agent when the season concludes next week.
His comments suggest he would be willing to do the same for the 2023 campaign, but that remains to be determined.
Zusi holds the franchise record for minutes played and appearances, and will inevitably join the list of Sporting Legends when he decides to hang up his boots.