The 2019 MLS season is one Sporting Kansas City fans will be looking to forget. But with a very long offseason ahead that may not have soccer until March (assuming no MLSPA strike), we feel compelled to look back at the good and the bad from 2019. For the full list of players reviewed, head to our dedicated Year in Review page.
The Blue Testament continues our look back at 2019 with the hometown hero — Matt Besler.
Games Played (Started): 27 (25)
Minutes Played: 2,115
Games Suspended: 1^
^Red card against the Colorado Rapids
xG (expected goals): 0.90
Positions Played: Left center back
2019 Salary: $674,997.64
Contract Through (Option Years): 2020 (None)
*All stats from 2019 MLS regular season unless otherwise noted.
Best Moment of 2019
Ole! Having the road crowd cheer for the road team waaaay back in February when SKC traveled to Mexico to face Toluca FC. It’s probably not a good sign when you play your best soccer in February and the MLS season starts in March. After the first leg in KC I wrote this: “This is a different team. It appears they are greatly ahead of schedule for the year. And even ahead of where they ended 2018.” When you put too many words on the internet, a bunch of them are bound to be really wrong when you look back.
Worst Moment of 2019
With the back line playing the way they did in 2019, there are lots of options here, but I’ll go with the San Jose Earthquakes game on April 20th. Besler only played 15 minutes because he went down with an injury in a game that would end 4-1 as a loss. He would only miss three games (0-2-1) but it was the start of a down turn for Sporting KC that honestly, they never fully recovered from. Going back to dumb things I wrote, this is from the SKC/SJ preview where I predicted a 3-1 KC win: “SKC will tear you apart if you play that way and leave them room to carve you up with passes.” Whoops! Who knew San Jose would suddenly turn it all around?
33. As in, Matt Besler will turn 33 on Saturday. As people like to say, father time is undefeated. I don’t personally think center back (or goalkeeper for that matter) are as effected by age. Especially when you play the game the way Besler does, relying on technique, positioning and reading the game more than raw athleticism. But if SKC fail to find some athletic defenders to put around him, his time in Kansas City could be limited to the final season on his current contract which is next year.
Fan Vote: Keep, Banish or Wait
The fans are far more forgiving of Besler than of most of the other defenders. The only players who scored higher on the “keep” vote are Luis Martins (who we profiled Monday) and Jaylin Lindsey, who is seen by many as the right back of the future. Besler even outscored Barath (70.3%) who has many more years of soccer ahead of him. Home town bias?