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Sporting KC re-signs MLS veterans Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza and Andreu Fontas

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(Dec. 2, 2022) — Sporting Kansas City announced today that the club has re-signed MLS veterans Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza and Andreu Fontas.

Zusi and Espinoza have signed one-year contracts through 2023 with options for 2024, while Fontas has signed a two-year deal through 2024.

One of the most accomplished players in club history, Zusi has spent his entire 14-year professional career at Sporting and won four major championships in Kansas City—the 2013 MLS Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles in 2012, 2015 and 2017. He joined Sporting out of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and has since become the longest-tenured player with one team in MLS history, helping the club to 10 playoff appearances since 2011 as one of the league’s premier players.

Zusi is Sporting’s all-time appearance leader with 395 matches played in all competitions, including 341 in the MLS regular season and 20 in the MLS Cup Playoffs. His 341 regular season appearances are fourth most in MLS history by a player for one club. He also ranks first on the club’s all-time charts in starts (348) and minutes (31,761) while placing second in assists (89) and ninth in goals (35). The versatile veteran—who has transitioned from central midfielder to winger to right back during his tenure in Kansas City—was selected to the MLS Best XI in 2012 and 2013, and his club-record seven All-Star selections between 2012-2019 were the most in MLS during that time.

Internationally, Zusi amassed five goals and seven assists in 55 appearances for the United States Men’s National Team from 2012-2017. He appeared in all four matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup as a wide midfielder, tallying two assists, before representing his country at the 2015 and 2017 Concacaf Gold Cups, winning the latter as a right back.

The 2022 campaign saw Zusi become the first player in MLS history to play 14 seasons all with one club and the 19th player to eclipse 30 goals and 70 assists in the regular season. He started 20 of 21 MLS appearances, tallying two goals—including a brilliant long-range blast in a 2-1 win at Nashville SC on June 19—and adding two assists in a 4-1 victory over the Portland Timbers on Aug. 21.

Espinoza has spent 13 seasons at Sporting Kansas City as one of Major League Soccer’s longest-serving midfielders, helping the club to three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championships and nine playoff appearances. In two separate spells at Sporting from 2008-2012 and 2015 to present, Espinoza ranks second in club history in appearances (368) and third in starts (321) and minutes played (28,220) across all competitions. He has also scored 14 goals and sits fifth on Sporting’s all-time chart with 47 assists.

Espinoza, a 2012 MLS All-Star, has logged 316 regular season appearances since debuting for Kansas City in 2008—the third most all-time among one-club MLS players behind Zusi (341) and Portland midfielder Diego Chara. He also leads Sporting with 24 career appearances in the U.S. Open Cup, a prestigious domestic tournament he helped the team win in 2012, 2015 and 2017. In 2022, he started 26 of 33 appearances in all competitions and scored the club’s Goal of the Year presented by Parisi Coffee with a 45-yard stunner to spark a 2-1 win at CF Montreal.

Espinoza began his professional career in Kansas City as a 2008 MLS SuperDraft selection out of Ohio State University. Between stints with Sporting, he moved abroad for a two-year spell at English side Wigan Athletic, where he competed in the English Premier League, UEFA Europa League and helped the Latics to an upset win over Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup Final.

On the international stage, Espinoza has played 52 times for the Honduras Men’s National Team since debuting in 2009. He notably represented Honduras at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, making five starts across the two tournaments. He also starred for Los Catrachos at the 2012 Summer Olympics in England, leading Honduras to the quarterfinals of the competition and scoring against Brazil.

Fontas, who arrived in Kansas City in 2018, has been a backline staple for Sporting over the last two seasons. The Spanish center back has started in 62 of the club’s 70 MLS matches since 2021, flourishing as one of the league’s best ball-playing defenders. In the previous two seasons combined, Fontas leads MLS in total passes, successful passes and touches while also leading the team in interceptions and clearances. He has finished back-to-back campaigns ranking in the top 10 of MLS in goals added, an advanced metric that measures a player’s total on-ball contribution in attack and defense.

Fontas earned Sporting’s Defender of the Year award for the second straight season in 2022, finishing the campaign with starts in 31 of 32 appearances across all competitions. He helped the club reach the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals, starting in all four matches of the tournament run, and bagged goals in consecutive matches for the first time in his professional career by scoring at Austin FC on Aug. 13 and against the Portland Timbers on Aug. 21.

A native of Banyoles, Spain, Fontas developed in FC Barcelona’s famed La Masia youth academy. He split time between Barcelona and Barcelona B from 2008 to 2012, during which time the club won three La Liga titles and two UEFA Champions League titles under manager Pep Guardiola. Fontas competed alongside world-class players like Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and David Villa as well as former Sporting teammate Ilie Sanchez. Following his time at Barcelona, he moved on to Mallorca (2012-13) and Celta Vigo (2013-2018) in Spain’s top division before heading stateside for his stint with Sporting.

Today’s announcement brings the Sporting Kansas City roster to 26 players heading into the 2023 MLS campaign, which will kick off the final weekend of February. For a full list of Sporting’s offseason roster moves, visit SportingKC.com/news/tracker.

Sporting KC 2023 Roster (as of Dec. 2, 2022)

  • Goalkeepers (3): Kendall McIntosh, Tim Melia, John Pulskamp
  • Defenders (7): Andreu Fontas, Kortne Ford, Logan Ndenbe, Kayden Pierre, Ben Sweat, Robert Voloder, Graham Zusi
  • Midfielders (10): Ozzie Cisneros, Jake Davis, Cam Duke, Roger Espinoza, Felipe Hernandez, Gadi Kinda, Nemanja Radoja, Uri Rosell, Erik Thommy, Remi Walter
  • Forwards (6): Willy Agada, Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell, Daniel Salloi, Khiry Shelton, Marinos Tzionis
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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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