For as long as soccer fans can remember, Landon Donovan has been the face of MLS. He rose through the ranks with the San Jose Earthquakes, then moved on the L.A. Galaxy, where he has since won three MLS Cup championships. Donovan has gone on loan to Everton and Bayer Munich during his career. He is also is the all-time leading scorer for the USA National Team, thus making him one, if not the most decorated player in U.S. Soccer history.
Times have started to change around MLS though. Donovan is starting to near the end of his career both internationally and domestically. Due to that fact, fans have started to look for the next great U.S. soccer star to fall in love with. Seattle Sounders‘ Clint Dempsey is a solid idea, but he too, like Donovan, is starting to come to the end of his career.
So who then can take on the role of being the new face of MLS?
Over the past two seasons, one player has truly emerged as the face of MLS. That player is none other than Graham Zusi. The two-time MLS Best XI selection has proven that he can be a dominant force for Sporting Kansas City and the U.S. National team. Zusi tallied six goals and eight assists during the 2013 season, while leading Sporting KC to a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference standings.
Since being drafted back in 2009, Zusi has scored 17 goals and recorded 31 assists in league play. He also was named a two-time MLS ALL-Star, a Volkswagen MVP finalist in 2012 and the 2012 Breakout Player of the Year.
Zusi has recently emerged as a common fixture for the U.S. National Team. During his 16 international appearances, Zusi has scored once and assisted on four goals. While these performances have helped Zusi, he has stated that his ultimate goal is to make it on the 2014 World Cup — a feat that is very possible for the young midfielder.
MLS and U.S. National Team fans can be very optimistic when it comes to the future of Zusi. His leadership is second to none, and his ability to make plays in difficult situations is something that can be respected. MLS fans love homegrown players that end up making it to the big stage like the World Cup. Zusi would be no exception. The future is very bright for this Sporting midfielder. He definitely has made a solid case for why he could be called the “New Face of MLS” and will continue to be for many more seasons to come.