This cultured wide midfielder became a part of USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans at the start of last year. Extended an invitation to participate in the annual January camp for so-called fringe players, Graham Zusi levered himself into the coach’s reckoning by sheer force, will and his useful qualities out on the right side of midfield.

Zusi plays his club football for reigning Major League Soccer champions Sporting Kansas City, where he is renowned for his ability to create goals with his clever passing and creative vision. He played an important role in the latter stages of CONCACAF qualifying for the FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil, starting a number of games and coming off the bench in others to help the Americans seal their place in what will be Zusi’s first appearance at the quadrennial international showpiece.

“I try to push myself all the time,” Zusi, twice an MLS all-star selection and Sporting Kansas City’s player of the year for 2012 and 2013, told when his place in Brazil was still not assured. “I’m doing everything I can to make myself into a better player.”