KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Matt Besler may be a first-time All-Star, but he has one thing on his resume that all but one of his teammates can’t claim.
Besler and Jack Jewsbury, by virtue of the Red Devils' trip to Kansas City last July, are the only players on Hans Backe’s roster who have an unblemished record against the MLS All-Stars' opponent on Wednesday night.
“I’m undefeated against Manchester United, so hopefully we’ll keep it going,” Besler said.
Joining Besler in New York for Wednesday night’s friendly with the reigning Premier League champions is teammate Omar Bravo, who is now Sporting’s leading scorer with six goals after recording a brace against Toronto FC this past Saturday.
Backe has said that each player on the game-day roster will appear on Wednesday and Besler said he planned on enjoying himself but that the competitive nature of the players involved — as well as the pedigree of their opponent — would certainly come out during the match.
“It will be a good experience,” he said. “It’s something kind of for the fans, but we want to make sure we put a good performance out there.”
Jéferson pushed to limit in first league appearance
Sporing manager Peter Vermes planned on playing Jéferson no more than 75 minutes in his MLS debut against Toronto last weekend. Unfortunately, circumstances got in the way of that plan.
Vermes had already used two substitutions before Aurélien Collin was forced out of the game in the 62nd minute after taking a blow to the back, meaning the Brazilian had no choice but to gut out a full 90 minutes despite only having a week of training with the club under his belt.
“For me, it comes down to mental toughness,” Jéferson said through an interpreter. “You can’t show the other team signs of fatigue because they’ll eat you alive.”
Vermes said the freshly signed Designated Player probably played 20 to 25 minutes too long, but he was impressed by the way Jéferson was able to make his mark on the game despite having only a few days to train with his teammates.
His most impressive moment came in the 37th minute, when he spotted Bravo camped on a defender’s shoulder in an onside position and slipped a delicate ball through the Toronto defense that resulted in Kansas City’s third goal of the game and his first assist in MLS.
“At times he was very good for us in the way he gave the final pass, breaking down players and relieving pressure,” Vermes said. Those things are good. The other thing is he got used to a game in our league and what can happen over 90 minutes.”
Pompey trial ends without contract for Thomas
Although his absence was described as personal leave by Vermes, reports from across the pond this week indicated that Shavar Thomas recently completed a one-week trial with Portsmouth.
Thomas joined up with the Championship club in Charleston, S.C., where they are preparing for the upcoming season with a friendly against USL Pro side Charleston Battery on Wednesday. Thomas played in a 2-2 draw against a Charleston XI, according to Sky Sports, but manager Steve Cotterill decided not to offer the 30-year-old center back a contract.
Thomas started 16 games for Kansas City last season after arriving via a trade with Philadelphia but has played just 35 minutes so far in 2011 in three substitute appearances.