Matt Besler has played about as many games as any defender since joining the league in 2009, but the longtime Sporting Kansas City veteran says he knows that at this point in his career, he's probably not going to be playing every single match. And he's OK with that.
Besler took to social media on Wednesday to address what he says have been repeated questions from the media regarding his absence from the starting XI in Sporting's last two matches in the MLS is Back Tournament — a 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake in the group stage, and their penalty kick triumph over the Vancouver Whitecaps in the round of 16. He was subsequently also left out of the starting lineup for SKC's quarterfinal against Philadelphia Union.
Third-year center back Graham Smith will against start on Thursday after stepping into Besler's spot in the XI in those last two games, partnering offseason arrival Roberto Puncec, who has played every minute of 2020 so far for SKC.
The 33-year-old said that being rotated out of the lineup sometimes is simply a function of where he's at in his career, with 288 games and over 25,000 MLS minutes under his belt.
"Of course I want to play every minute of every game, but that's not reality," Besler wrote. "I'm not perfect. Name one player in the world who's played every game in their career. It doesn't happen. As I enter the last few years of my career, if I have to answer questions about not playing every single time I'm not in the lineup, I might go crazy."
Besler went on to say that he's much more concerned with the team's success as opposed to whether or not he's in the starting XI for a given game. So far, Sporting have looked like a legitimate Western Conference contender in 2020, making it to the quarterfinals of the tournament after shooting out of the gates back in March and scoring seven goals in emphatic victories over Vancouver and the Houston Dynamo.
"I'd much rather focus on the positive things," he wrote. "Right now we're 1st in the West, and into the quarterfinal of the MLS is Back Tournament. We've had three big results in a row. Defensively, we've had two shutouts in a row. Subs are coming on and making a difference. It's not about who plays and who doesn't. It's about how strong of a team we can be together."