But the simple fact that the center back was in club action rather than with the US national team in Utah has “raised eyebrows” across MLS, according to a report by ESPN’s Julie Stewart-Binks.
Sporting head coach Peter Vermes found himself short-handed on center backs due to injuries and visa issues facing recent signing from USL side Swope Park Rangers Amer Didic. (Those were eventually resolved in time for Saturday’s game.)
So Vermes contacted his USMNT counterpart Bruce Arena on Wednesday night to make an emergency request that Besler be released back to SKC for the weekend's match. The move would rule the defender out of Saturday’s USA vs. Venezuela friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
According to FIFA regulations, clubs are not required to release players for international matches that fall outside FIFA schedule windows, like the Venezuela game.
“Arena obliged, and he told me, ‘It’s stupid if things are so rigid that we can’t help out teams when they need it,’” Stewart-Binks reported in the ESPN pregame show shortly before kickoff at Children’s Mercy Park.
“The decision raised some eyebrows around the league,” she added, “including those of Seattle general manager Garth Lagerwey, who requested the release of one of his forwards [Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris] for Seattle’s game against Columbus midweek, and was denied. Now Arena told me he uses it on a case-by-case basis based on what his national-team needs are.”
The Kansas City Star reported that Besler flew home from the US camp in Denver on Thursday night, took part in Friday’s training session, and will return to the national team on Sunday. The Sounders lost 3-0 to Crew SC on Wednesday and host Houston at CenturyLink Field on Sunday night (10 pm ET | MLS LIVE).
“Maybe they have a different relationship,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer told the Seattle Times, referring to Sporting KC and the USMNT. “Who knows if he [Besler] is going to figure in any of the matches? There are a lot of details that I’m not aware of. We’re supportive of the national team. We’re supportive of Clint and Jordan.... This is an unusual circumstance with calling guys in early. So, I couldn’t really comment on what KC has done.
“But sure, it would have been nice to have our guys. For sure.”
When contacted by MLSsoccer.com on Saturday, a US Soccer spokesperson said that Arena hadn't spoken with Lagerwey or refused a request to release their players for the match.