KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There are few surprises better than the one Sporting Kansas City defender Graham Zusi received Tuesday.
Children's Mercy patients surprised Zusi with news of his Major League Soccer all-star bid. He will make the seventh all-star appearance of his career.
Zusi and other Sporting players have built a special bond with the Children's Mercy patients. They visit the patients one Tuesday per month and spend countless hours with them.
The news of being selected for the all-star game was even more special because of that bond. The kids' surprise act caused him to become overwhelmed with emotion.
"(It was) completely unexpected. It's amazing. It really is," Zusi said before being brought to tears. "It's made me quite emotional. (I) had no clue whatsoever. I thought it was gonna be a typical hospital visit."
The MLS All-Star Fan XII will take place on July 31, in Zusi's hometown of Orlando, Florida.
Zusi also said that he and the other players thoroughly enjoy being with the patients and helping them to take their minds off of what they're going through. The surprise was a perfect way to return the favor.
"The Sporting visit that happens every month is by far one of my favorite events," Children's Mercy Hospital volunteer program director Trista Williams said. "They get in with the kids. They get in and they play with them. And, they really make a difference in their lives, so that when we got the phone call Friday to help be a part of this news for Graham, I couldn't have been more happy. Like, for us to be able to provide this to him and he provides us so much in all of his monthly visits was really awesome."
Voting for the 2019 All-Star Fan XI closed on June 13. Zusi will be one of 24 players that will participate in the game in Orlando.