KANSAS CITY, Mo. – If Sporting Kansas City elect not to sell him, what would it take to make Matt Besler fully satisfied with that outcome?
He wouldn't say. But the star center back, who has said before that playing his entire career with his hometown club is a long-held dream, did hint that he's not looking for a short-term commitment.
“I'll keep some of that stuff to myself,” Besler told reporters after Friday's training session. “But I do think if I sign a contract with Sporting, both sides will be showing that they're committing to each other very seriously, and for the long term.”
Things were different the last time Besler was the subject of attention from Europe and speculation about his career trajectory.
He wasn't fresh off a strong World Cup performance, for one thing – hadn't even been capped for the US national team, for that matter, when he signed a new three-year deal with Sporting between the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Besler was out of contract then, too, the decision fully in his hands – and without league competition demanding his attention. But with Sporting atop the Eastern Conference and in chasing a second straight MLS Cup title, Besler said his biggest focus right now is on Saturday's home match against the LA Galaxy (6 pm ET; ESPN2).
“You're in the middle of a season right now, so it's not your main focus at all,” he said. “Right now I'm under contract with Sporting Kansas City, and I'm fully committed to this club. I think I've shown that in the past two games.”
Besler sat out his first weekend back with Sporting, a rest prearranged with club management, but hasn't missed a minute in central defense since then.
“I think guys can approach it in different ways,” he said. “If guys are looking to get transferred, a lot of times you'll see them sit out because they don't want to get injured – but I think I've proved that I'm not doing that at all. I'm committed to this team, and I want to try and win. And that's really all I care about right now.”
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A report in Thursday's edition of The Kansas City Star cited an anonymous source claiming that Besler wanted to be kept in Kansas City and given a long-term deal, and quoted agent Eddie Rock as saying that while Besler was keeping his options open, talks with Sporting had reached an advanced stage.
Besler downplayed the report after training.
“That's just – that's a story,” he said. “I would just say that there's a lot of stuff out on the Internet. The Internet is a funny thing sometimes, how it works, and I would just say, 'Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.'”
He's not surprised by the international attention on his future, either. In fact, Besler said, it's what he expected of himself heading into this league season and the World Cup.
“As a player, you're always trying to get better, trying to make it to the highest level,” he said. “So you have to prepare yourself, and you have to believe in yourself that you're going to keep making it.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.