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Zusi Stars On Opening Weekend
Former PDL standout led SKC to victory against Union

Major League Soccer Round-Up

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

For the opening half-hour against the Philadelphia Union, Sporting Kansas City didn’t look like the side that finished first in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference and won the U.S. Open Cup a season ago. Fortunately for Peter Vermes’ side, it was then that Graham Zusi asserted his quality, leading his side to a 3-1 victory to open the 2013 MLS season, earning a place on the MLS Team of the Week announced on Tuesday.

The former Central Florida Kraze standout, who played a pair of season in the PDL in 2005-06, first tied the game in the 41st minute, rifling home the rebound after Zac MacMath could only parry Benny Feilhaber’s initial effort.

Zusi then provided the assist on what proved to be the game-winner, floating a free kick into the penalty area for Uri Rosell to head home. He also picked up a second assist as his cross found former Ventura County Fusion defender Chance Myers deep in the Philadelphia penalty area, who cut his cross back to Claudio Bieler for a third.

Zusi’s standout performance overshadowed Sebastian Le Toux’s return to the Union, with the former USL First Division MVP scoring the opening goal of the MLS season as he gave Philadelphia the lead in the 17th minute. The contest also saw the MLS debut of former Orlando City standout Mechack Jerome, who came on as a late substitute for Sporting Kansas City after his acquisition last week from the Lions.

Three other former PDL standouts joined Zusi on the MLS Team of the Week, with former Cleveland Internationals standout Darlington Nagbe earning a berth after helping the Portland Timbers rally to earn a 3-3 draw against the New York Red Bulls. FC Dallas’ Matt Hedges, an All-League selection for reading United in 2010, also earned as berth, as did 2012 All-League selection DeAndre Yedlin of the Sounders FC U23 as he made his debut for the club’s senior side.

Yedlin wasn’t the only former PDL standout to make his debut, with the Austin Aztex’s Kekuta Manneh and Dillon Powers both earning starting roles for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Colorado Rapids, respectively. Powers was joined in the Rapids’ starting lineup by Deshorn Brown, who had a solid debut for the Rapids after leading the PDL with 13 goals in 2012 for Reading United.

Former Portland Timbers U-23s standouts Erik Hurtado and Emery Welshman also shared the same field, with both coming on as second-half substitutes for Vancouver and Toronto respectively as the Whitecaps took a 1-0 victory at B.C. Place. Former Washington Crossfire midfielder Adam Jahn also made his debut, coming on as a substitute for the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday night.

Elsewhere, former Cleveland International standout Josh Williams found the back of the net as the Columbus Crew took a 3-0 victory against Chivas USA, as did former Richmond Kickers Futures forward Dominic Oduro. 

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