For the last 31 days left in the year, we're going to be looking back at 31 different storylines from 2014 in Kansas City soccer. From Sporting KC's roller coaster season, to FC Kansas City and the Missouri Comets both winning their respective league championships, each day we'll have a different article looking back at one of the 31 most important stories in Kansas City soccer this year as we get ready for 2015 and everything it brings.
Two Sporting Kansas City players went to Brazil this summer as part of the United States national team. Matt Besler showcased his impeccable defensive positioning as a solid centerback. Graham Zusi sent in a corner that gave the United States the win over Ghana and also assisted on Clint Dempsey's go-ahead goal against Portugal.
The celebrations were going on in South America, but back in Kansas City fans were beginning to feel panic. Interest had been drawn for both of these players from abroad, although Besler was drawing more.
After the World Cup, interest in Besler got so serious that it looked like he was going to transfer. Championship side Fulham, who is known for giving Americans a chance abroad, made a "serious offer" as did Sunderland. Besler's agent laid out a timeline for a transfer while also expressing Besler's interest in becoming a one-club player for the rest of his career.
It was a tense few weeks before we had anything to ease our minds. It was right before a match against the Los Angeles Galaxy when Robb Heinemann posted this on Instagram.
Just a few minutes later, Sam McDowell confirmed the news on Twitter.
Besler and Zusi will both be designated players. Their contracts will be guaranteed through 2018. #SportingKC
— Sam McDowell (@SamMcDowell11) July 19, 2014
And there it was. Every feeling that Sporting fans had about Besler and Zusi going abroad were almost gone. By having contacts guaranteed through 2018, it gave Sporting Kansas City a core to continue to build around. It gave Sporting a solid presence in the defense and an opportunistic playmaker on the wing or at center attacking midfielder.
Especially in Besler's case, the extension did not seem likely before it was announced. He was drawing heavy interest and, at this point in his career, it was now or never. Many United States national team fans were hoping he'd go abroad to face tougher competition since he figured to be in the United States' defensive plans for the next few years but it was confirmed from that point that the Kansas City kid would be staying in his hometown. The contract, as he said himself, would keep him in Kansas City for the prime of his career.
While the season started to turn downhill towards the end, this was a definite bright spot. It locked up two fan favorites for the next five years at least and gave Sporting KC two experienced guys to lead the club for the foreseeable future. This summer they played for club and for country and with this announcement, they made sure that Sporting KC was their club and that would not change.