Sporting Kansas City will send three players to the U.S. Men’s National Team training camp Jan. 3-20 in preparation for international friendlies against Venezuela on Jan. 21 and Panama on Jan. 25. Sporting Kansas City forwards Teal Bunbury and C.J. Sapong, along with midfielder Graham Zusi, were each named to the 20-player roster announced by U.S. Soccer on Thursday.
“January camps are a good introduction for players to work their way into the National Team, so it’s a prime opportunity for guys like C.J. Sapong and Graham Zusi, while Teal Bunbury continues to establish himself in the player pool,” saidSporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes.
The three players from Sporting Kansas City are tied for the most chosen from any club, following the team’s first place finish in the Eastern Conference during the 2011 Major League Soccer season.
Sapong, MLS Rookie of the Year in 2011, and Zusi, named Breakout Player of the Year by MLSSoccer.com, will be participating in their first U.S. Men’s National Team training camp and are two of only three players on the roster to receive their firstselection. Further, Sapong and Bunbury are two of four forwards selected byU.S. Men’s National Team Manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
“I’m very excited and thankful for this opportunity,” said Sapong, who led all rookies with five goals and five assists last season. “I’ve worked really hard for this and look forward to working even harder to take my game to the next level.”
“I’m looking forward to representing Sporting Kansas City in my first national team camp,” said Zusi, who recorded career highs with five goals and seven assists last year. “It will be a great experience and a great way to start the 2012 season.”
Bunbury, currently in Florida with the U.S. Men’s Under-23 National Team in preparation for the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, will be the only field player to participate in both training camps. The 21-year-old led Sporting Kansas City with 11 goals in MLS play last season, including two in the MLS Cup Playoffs, and most recently participated in two training camps with the senior squad in the past three months.
“It’s always an honor to be given the opportunity to play for your country,” said Bunbury, who debuted for the U.S. Men’s National Team in November 2010 and scored in his second appearance in January 2011. “Credit goes to Sporting KC for having such a good season. It’s given me the chance to be able to have this opportunity. I’m ready to go into camp and work hard, learn and try to improve my game. I’m very thankful.”
The U.S. Men’s National Team will open the training camp in Phoenix for 10 days from Jan. 3-13 before traveling to Carson, Calif. to continue the camp from Jan. 13-19. The team will then play its first match of 2012 on Jan. 21 at the University of Phoenix Stadium against Venezuela. Four days later, the team will travel toPanama City to face Panama on Jan. 25 at Estadio Rommel Fernandez.