Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DARRELL LOVELL
HOUSTON – In a year Graham Zusi has gone from a player looking to break his way into head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans, to one that is seeing that the next level is well within his grasp.
Zusi entered the 2012 January camp looking to work his way onto the US roster. A year and three World Cup qualifying starts later, he finds himself as an experienced player fresh off a week-long stint with West Ham United.
“Overall, it was a good experience and it was fun to play with that quality of team at that level,” Zusi told reporters Sunday. “Another thing I learned was the jump from here to there isn’t really as high as many people think it is which was reassuring for myself and everyone.”
Zusi, who re-iterated that he has not heard from West Ham, can look back at a year with six caps, and three starts in World Cup qualifying, as help to get to that point. The Sporting midfielder was big for Klinsmann replacing the absent Landon Donovan and now he has taken up the mantle of group leader, which may be odd considering where he was this time last year.
“He broke into the team and played a very important element and you can see he can already pass on that knowledge to the next group coming through,” Klinsmann told reporters Sunday. “You see that experienced players like Graham … they are ready to talk to the younger guys and tell them it is what it is and if you want to get to the next level you’ve got to put a lot of work in.
“Graham’s stepped it up personality wise and became very consistent in his performances and therefore deserves to be where he is.”
HONDURAS ROSTER MEETING SET
Klinsmann reiterated to reporters that there are several spots up for grabs on the roster that will take on Honduras February 6th in the first World Cup qualifier. Klinsmann said that the players from this roster that are held over will convene in Miami Saturday before the European based players are expected to arrive on Sunday. The U.S. boss expects his full roster to be together no later than Monday.
OPEN TRAINING IN HOUSTON
If you are in the Houston area and want a glimpse of the squad the U.S. will hold an open training Monday at 5:00 P.M. CT at BBVA Compass Stadium.