On the latest edition of BSI the Podcast, hosts Benny Feilhaber, Sal Zizzo and Ike Opara sat down with Sporting Kansas City’s captain, Matt Besler. As always, the boys do a good job getting good stories out of people, often full of details that never would be revealed otherwise.
While there are a ton of good tidbits, one that jumped out was when Benny asked Matt what team was the closest that he came to leaving Sporting to join.
Besler gave a two part answer. “The closest was probably Fulham right after the World Cup,” started Besler. “They were playing in the Championship at the time.”
That of course was the 2014 World Cup but Besler (and Graham Zusi) ultimately decided to sign new Designated Player deals to stay in Kansas City. Fulham would go on to be in the Premier League too, so Besler could have achieved something not many American players have.
“[Fulham] was probably the one that I had most control over and I was seriously considering at the time,” continued Besler. Just think if Bes had left. That is two US Open Cups, countless starts and memories that wouldn’t have happened for Sporting KC fans.
But a possible transfer to England on the heels of a strong World Cup is hardly a surprise. What is surprising is that there was a chance that the captain could have been traded within MLS. It came during a poor run of games where Besler was on the bench.
“I know that there have probably been a couple of other [potential teams],” said Besler. “Who knows what goes on behind closed doors with Peter being General Manager. I’m sure he gets calls all the time. There was a time, I believe in 2015 or maybe 16 where he calls me into his office and he basically said, ‘hey, I know [being benched] is a tough situation for you, you’re the captain and you’ve been here forever, there’s definitely teams that are interested in you and I just wanted to let you know that. And in years past I’ve always let people know that are in your situation and some guys want to get out of Kansas City or try something new, if you are one of those guys, let me know.’ I basically said, ‘No, I’m good. I want to fight for my spot back and I’m going to prove to the guys and I’m going to prove to you that I should be playing.”
Undoubtedly, that’s exactly the kind of thing Vermes wanted to hear. But who was the team? “He wouldn’t tell me the team,” continued Besler. “Obviously I left the meeting and got on the phone and started calling around and that team ended up being Orlando [City SC]. They were just coming into the league and so I think they wanted a proven center back, consistent center back type of guy, so they were trying to trade for me.”
Orlando City entered the league in 2015, but it was probably 2016 when this happened. Besler had just 17 starts that year (as opposed to 32 in 2015). So, of course, the trade never materialized and the boys go on to discuss Dom Dwyer being traded to Orlando the next season for much more money than they’d have probably gotten for Besler.
Lots of other topics were discussed and the full podcast is absolutely a must listen if you are a Sporting KC fan. A few topics that come up:
- Besler’s first MLS appearance being as a left winger (which Curt Onalfo explained later he just wanted to get Besler’s feet wet). He talked about spending his rookie year, as many remember at LB.
- A sketchy $150 a month rent for Zusi before he moved into Besler’s family home. Zusi actually took Graham’s old room while Besler lived in the basement. Zusi’s apartment had a TV with no stand, foldable lawn chairs and a blow up mattress that would deflate each night.
- Zusi signed his first contract right before the first game despite tearing it up in preseason. Zusi was just going with the flow, like he apparently always does.
- On potentially being a coach in the future
- “Fun” recruiting visits to Notre Dame (Besler said he was five for six on convincing guys to come).
- Failing to qualify for the World Cup
- And lots more
You can find a link to the podcast below or listen wherever you get your podcasts.