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Copa America Postmortem: Graham Zusi

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In this Postmortem series we'll be examining each player on the USA's 23-man roster and how they performed during the Copa America and what's next for them heading into the conclusion of World Cup qualifying.

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Graham Zusi had been poor for his club team for a couple years, but always seemed to play better when he suited up for the Red, White and Blue. He runs like a madman, he's pretty clever on the ball, and he is quick. The one thing that would leave everyone shaking their heads, was his set piece delivery. Despite that, Jurgen Klinsmann said he brought Zusi along specifically for that delivery. But Zusi was a key contributor off the bench throughout the entire tournament.

Final Stats:

Games played: 5 (1 start)

Minutes: 138

Goals: 1

Shots created: 1

Defensive Actions: 8

Positives

There was plenty to like from Zusi's contributions this tournament. He played in every single match except for the third place game, and did his job in each of them. He was brought in for Bedoya most frequently and provided fresh legs and some creativity in the midfield. His best moment was his goal in the 4-0 route of Costa Rica. The thing you will always get from Zusi is an incredible work rate. A lot of what he does is being in the right spot at the right time and that won't show up in the stats. His positioning alone would have prevented counter attacks and opportunities for the opponent, but he also added four tackles and four interceptions as well. Jurgen actually did a very good job of utilizing Zusi. He may not have the highest ceiling, but he provided the squad with quality, veteran experience off the bench when the team needed something more.

Negatives

According to Jurgen, he was on the roster for his set piece ability. In that regard, he was a bit of a let down. At one point in his career Zusi was an absolute master on corner kicks. He was especially dangerous with an out-swinger. But somewhere along the line he has lost his touch. Because from what I have seen, the majority of his set pieces are not only not great anymore, but truly bad. He puts too much weight on the ball and sends it over everyone's head seemingly every single time. Thankfully, Jurgen realized he had others to do the job and Zusi didn't take too many.

Copa Grade - B

Considering his expectations and the manner in which he was used, Zusi was great. He wasn't brought along to start and be a creative force in the midfield. He was there for his experience and his work rate. He provided basically a like for like switch with Alejandro Bedoya and gave his team quick, creative, and fresh legs off the bench. The real stat I'd like to see from him, is his distance traveled. The guy was everywhere. Zusi did very well when called upon and put up some solid numbers in his 138 minutes. I'm inclined to think he may have exceeded expectations actually, but I can't bring myself to give a bench player higher than a B+.

What’s Next

Graham returned to Sporting KC with some swag. He immediately looked much better for his club team and scored a brilliant goal against Columbus. But he has now picked up a small hamstring injury and was a late scratch on the weekend. He will need to return to his DP form in order for KC to make a run in the playoffs as well as compete in the CONCACAF Champion's League. But Zusi showed he is still important to the USMNT and that he has a role on this team. Expect him to continue getting the call from Jurgen as they prepare for the World Cup.