KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sporting Kansas City, coming off their worst loss of the season, will get a much-needed boost for Tuesday’s US Open Cup quarterfinal with the return of center back Matt Besler.
Besler, who has missed Sporting’s last three matches as he recovered from an emergency appendectomy, has been cleared to play and will be in the 18 for the home match against the Dayton Dutch Lions of the third-tier USL Pro (8:30 pm ET, streamed live).
“It looks like he’s going to get some minutes tomorrow,” manager Peter Vermes said after Monday’s training session. “Looks like he’s going to be OK.”
HIGHLIGHTS: PHI 4, SKC 0
Vermes said he had not yet decided whether Besler would start or be available as a substitute. The center back left for a doctor’s appointment immediately after training and did not speak to reporters.
His return is welcome news for a defense that has yielded five goals in its last two matches, all but one of those in Saturday’s 4-0 loss at Philadelphia, and will be facing a Dayton side coming off a 4-0 win over Wilmington in weekend USL Pro action.
“He’s always good for quality,” goalkeeper and captain Jimmy Nielsen told MLSsoccer.com after Monday’s training. “You know what you get from him, week after week after week after week. He’s a guy you can trust, and we’ve missed him around the team.”
Besler rejoins a Sporting side anxious to put the memory of Saturday’s rout to rest – and to stay alive in the quest for their first US Open Cup since 2004.
“I know we all got pretty embarrassed by that game, and we want to show our fans – and ourselves – that we’re a lot better than that,” forward Teal Bunbury said. ”The quicker that we’re able to play a game and prove that, the better.”
Sporting know that a loss Tuesday would put them out of the Cup, though, and they’re determined not to repeat the disappointment of last year’s 2-0 quarterfinal loss to USL Pro side Richmond Kickers. That game was scoreless when it was delayed by weather, only for Richmond to exit the break the more motivated of the two sides.
“Last year, for us, was very disappointing,” Bunbury said. “We wanted to go all the way and earn our first trophy that this group was a part of. Unfortunately, it didn’t go that way, so this year we’re not going to take this team lightly.”
Should Sporting win on Tuesday, and Philadelphia get past the Harrisburg City Islanders in another quarterfinal match, that would set up an away semifinal date against the Union.
And even though an upset in that match would let Sporting play the semis at home, Nielsen would rather have a shot at payback.
“I really hope both [MLS] teams win,” he said. “It would give us a great opportunity to have revenge from this last game.”