KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Peter Vermes has always kept his own counsel about who plays, who sits, and when that does or doesn't happen – and once Sporting Kansas City's longtime manager makes that decision, he doesn't like to talk about it when people ask questions.
Even when the person doing the asking is US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
After Sporting center back Matt Besler's solid outing in the US's 1-1 friendly draw against New Zealand on Tuesday, Klinsmann told reporters that Besler played a “tremendous game” and added, “You wonder right now why he's not playing in Kansas City.”
Vermes, who has kept Besler on the bench for Sporting's last two league matches – with the club clinging to the sixth and final Western Conference spot in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs – refused to engage in a back-and-forth with Klinsmann on Wednesday when pressed on the issue.
“I have no comment,” he said, when asked about the US coach's remarks.
Vermes was also not in the mood to talk about the apparent disconnect between Besler being in form enough for international duty, despite last starting for his club team on Sept. 18.
“The national team has nothing to do with Sporting Kansas City, and vice versa,” Vermes told reporters. “This has nothing to do with either.”
Klinsmann later called Vermes to apologize for any confusion over his remarks, saying he was complimenting Besler's performance against New Zealand and not questioning the decisions in Kansas City.
“Peter is an outstanding coach and we've always had a great relationship,” Klinsmann said. “I respect every decision he and Sporting Kansas City makes.”
Besler, who has appeared in half of his team's 32 matches, also missed out on a spell of matches during the summer, partly due to injury. But Vermes – who rested the hometown hero for two matches at the end of the 2013 regular season leading up to Sporting's successful MLS Cup run – insisted that Besler has not fallen out of favor.
“I've always figured him in my plans,” said Vermes, whose club plays its next-to-last regular-season match on Sunday at Real Salt Lake (5 pm ET, MLS LIVE). “He's always been in my plans. He's not ever been out of my plans.”
Still, Vermes told The Kansas City Star last week – comments repeated in Wednesday's edition – that Besler had not been where the club needed him to be.
“I just need him to get back to who he is,” Vermes told The Star. “That’s really it. I don’t want to go into individual pieces, but I just need him to get back to who he is.
“He has it. It’s not like he hasn’t done it before. He’s done it. That’s all I’m waiting for.”
Even if he starts the last two matches of the season, the 29-year-old Besler will register the fewest starts since his sophomore 2010 season. But just last year he led Sporting KC with 38 starts in all competitions.
A five-time MLS All-Star, Besler was the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year and was named to the MLS Best XI squad in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He helped Sporting KC to MLS Cup (2013) and US Open Cup titles (2012, 2015) on his way to earning a place on the US national team for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Tuesday's match vs. New Zealand marked his 36th career USMNT appearance.
Vermes was impressed with Besler's performance against the Kiwis, which saw the veteran defender make 12 interceptions and two key blocks.
“He did good,” Vermes said. “Played well. Stayed healthy. That was the most important aspect.”
This story was updated from its original version to include further comment from US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.