KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Matt Besler helped the United States clinch first place in the Hexagonal of World Cup qualifying on his home pitch. Now, with the US closing out Hex play Tuesday night in Panama, Besler is at home helping Sporting Kansas City get ready for a key league match.
Besler was released from the US roster by coach Juergen Klinsmann, in part to give Clarence Goodson a start at center back against Panama. But even before Besler's full-90 appearance last Friday, in the Americans' 2-0 win over Jamaica, Sporting manager Peter Vermes had asked for his release following that match.
“We had a pre-agreement that we knew [Aurélien] Collin was in trouble with yellow cards, and if there was going to be an issue in that area, that we would need him back 100 percent,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “So [Klinsmann] said he would absolutely give it full consideration when we got there. We kind of knew after [Collin] got the yellow card, that he was going to come back, but we didn't get conformation until after their game.”
Collin was cautioned in last Wednesday's scoreless away draw to Houston, meaning he will miss Sporting's home match Friday against last-place D.C. United with his second yellow-card suspension of the season. Sporting need to win their last two to have a chance of taking their first Supporters' Shield since 2000.
Sporting midfielder Graham Zusi made the trip to Panama – where he scored his first international goal in a January 2012 friendly – after coming on as a halftime sub against the Reggae Boyz and putting the Americans up 1-0 in the 77th minute.
Besler was the first player down the pitch to congratulate him.
“I saw the play developing,” he said. “I've seen Graham do that hundreds of times, so when the ball got cut back to him, I just got a feeling he was going to put it in. I started sprinting, even before he shot it, and I ended up being the first one.”
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On Monday, Vermes said there's a chance Zusi could play against United.
“If he plays in that game down in Panama, he'll get back Tuesday night and be back with us in plenty of time for our game,” Vermes said. “It just depends on how much time he plays in that game.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.