SKC sign ‘core four’ to multi-year deals

Sporting Kansas City ensured their core would remain intact on Tuesday with the re-signing of defenders Matt Besler and Graham Zusi and midfielders Roger Espinoza and Ilie Sanchez to multi-year contracts.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. Besler, Zusi and Espinoza could have tested a limited version of MLS free agency after this season, while Sanchez was under contract for another year.

“These players have consistently performed at a high level and helped the club achieve tremendous success,” SKC manager Peter Vermes said in a statement. “Their winning mentality, work ethic, team-first attitude and all of the contributions they make outside of the soccer field in the community are integral to our strong culture, and we are excited to continue our pursuit of all of our goals with them in Kansas City.”

The quartet of All-Stars has led the team to an MLS Cup (2013), three U.S. Open Cup titles (2012, ’15 and ’17) and a franchise-record seven-year playoff streak since 2012.

“This is something that we’re not looking back on what we’ve done so far,” Zusi said during a news conference Tuesday. “We’re looking forward. We have a lot left to do.”

Besler and Zusi have been with SKC since 2009, while Espinoza was with the club from 2008-12 and returned in 2015 after a stint with Wigan Athletic of the Championship League in 2013-14. Sanchez rounded out the group when he signed in early 2017.

Besler, 31, is the club’s all-time leader in appearances (293), starts (285) and minutes played (25,805) across all competitions. He is a five-time MLS All-Star, most recently in 2016, and was named the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year. Besler has two assists on the season.

“I feel challenged every single day,” Besler said. “We have a chance to win every single year. So I want to continue to be a part of it.”

Zusi, 32, earned his sixth All-Star selection this season. He has two goals and four assists this year.

Espinoza, 31, was named an All-Star in 2012. He has one goal and a career-high nine assists this season.

Sanchez, 27, a first-time All-Star this season, has four goals and three assists.

Kansas City previously signed goalkeeper Tim Melia and defender Ike Opara to multi-year contract extensions last offseason.

SKC (13-7-6) will enter play this weekend third in the Western Conference with 45 points.

–Field Level Media

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