KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Officially, Matt Besler’s comeback from an emergency appendectomy was complete when he rejoined Sporting Kansas City’s starting XI. It wasn’t really sealed, though, until about 20 minutes into Tuesday night’s US Open Cup quarterfinal against the Dayton Dutch Lions.
The USL Pro side, already trailing 1-0 and looking to get back in the game, launched a counter down the right sideline. Besler, sprinting over from his center back spot, slid in to break up the threat.
Besler was back, and back in form – if not entirely ready for 90 minutes – after sitting out Sporting’s three previous matches in MLS play.
“That felt good. Felt really good,” Besler said after Sporting advanced to the USOC semifinals with a 3-0 win over the Dutch Lions. “I came up with a little bit of a grin on my face. It was fun to be back out there.”
Besler, who played into the 68th minute before being relieved by Konrad Warzycha, said he felt fine throughout the match but could tell he’d been off for a while.
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“The abdomen region, the area that I had surgery in, I didn’t feel it all night,” he said. “One of the things we were going to monitor was how I felt physically, because I had a major surgery 17 days ago and I didn’t run for 10 days. And so I didn’t want to come back and just blow it. I think it worked out, particularly me getting 65-70 minutes. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to go on Friday.”
That’s when Sporting host the Chicago Fire at Livestrong Sporting Park (8 pm ET, NBCSN, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com), and the short turnaround between Tuesday night and that match is another reason Vermes went to Warzycha not long after the hour mark.
“He looked good,” Vermes said in the postgame news conference. “I think the biggest thing for him is just the [ability to go] 90 minutes, so that’s why we didn’t give it to him. We didn’t want to wear him out; we may need him on Friday.”
Besler was cleared on Monday afternoon to play in the Open Cup quarterfinal, but held off on giving interviews until after the match because he didn’t want to be the focus of pregame stories.
After his successful return, though, he acknowledged the frustration of being absent for the first three matches of a five-game, 14-day stretch.
“It’s tough,” he said. “You get a little bit selfish, just sitting there and not being able to do anything. I’m glad to be back and helping out the team now.”