Sporting KC and U.S. National team star Graham Zusi has agreed to terms on a new multi-year contract with Sporting Kansas City. It is was reported by Brian Sciaretta at Yanks Abroad that the deal was completed between Zusi and Sporting KC on Thursday and is now awaiting final league approval. Sources are reporting that the deal will lock Zusi in through the 2017 season. Sporting KC CEO Robb Heineman took little time in confirming the deal after the initial report when he tweeted that he wanted to be the one to leak the deal and he hoped fans wouldn't mind having Zusi around for a while longer.
As these things often do, it took a while to get the deal done. The new contract has been in the works from before the season started. Way back in February at the unveiling of the new primary jersey, Heineman revealed that he was working on deals to extend a few players, specifically Zusi. At least part of the money was going to come from the proceeds of the Kei Kamara loan to Norwich. The fact that he mentioned the money from the Kamara loan would seem to mean that it was going to be money that was not paid through the normal league salary cap.
That sounds like Zusi could be earning DP level money, the portion above the normal max salary comes from the club and not the league. Terms will of course not be released when it is announced but they should say whether or not he is a DP. If they do not label him a DP, that does not mean he is not making DP money. The club could also use allocation money to pay the salary down below DP level and thus avoid the DP label.
Kamara's loan plays another role in Zusi signing a contract extension beyond having extra cash to spend. With Zusi's success with both club and national team, many had speculated that he would be headed overseas, possibly as soon as the summer transfer window. The fact that Sporting KC was willing to let Kamara go and try his luck in England may have been a significant factor in his being willing to sign a new contract at this point instead of waiting to try his luck later.
I've talked to Zusi several times inquiring about where they were in the process and he always replied that "it's too early." In one of those discussions he did talk about why he was willing to sign a new contract with the club instead of waiting for it to run out and see what he could do on the open market.
"It's obvious that they are looking at the best interest of the players; guys that have left recently are great examples of that," Zusi said. "Kei had a great opportunity and they let him take it. It's great to know they are not just looking at their best interest but the best interest of their players as well."
Conventional wisdom has always been that players had to go to Europe to get experience before they would get serious consideration with the National Team. That seems to have changed under U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann. With both Matt Besler and Zusi having become key contributors for the U.S. while playing in MLS, it makes sense for them both to stay where they have had their success, for now.
So for Zusi, he can sign that new contract, stay in the U.S. squad, have shorter plane trips to U.S. camp, continue to grow where he is comfortable and know that if the right opportunity comes along, Sporting KC will not block him from taking it. Of course a longer contract means that Sporting KC would also get a larger transfer fee and thus be able to retain other players. A win for player, club and fans.