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18 July 11:07 am

The final installment of our Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight features the pride of Kansas City, Matt Besler. Besler's standout performances on and off the field make him the perfect candidate for a Kevin Gray Award. Drafted by Kansas City in 2009, Besler hit the ground running and saw a steady rise in form until 2011, when his career took off after being named 2011 Kevin Gray Awards Adult Player of the Year, presented by Pepsi.

"It's a great honor and one that I felt a lot of pride in accepting," Besler said of receiving the award. "Kansas City has always been a place that has many talented athletes. I'm grateful to be amongst such great company with the previous Kevin Gray Award winners."

Since winning his first Kevin Gray Award in 2011 and second in 2013, Besler has thrived in both domestic and international competition. Here are some highlights from his ever-growing list of accomplishments:

USMNT:

  • Debuted for the US Men’s National Team on Jan. 29, 2013
  • Started 20 games out of 21 games played for USMNT
  • Totaled 1,683 minutes in 2013 and 2014
  • Started all four games at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, totaling 345 minutes, and is the first player from the state of Kansas to play in a World Cup

2014 MLS

  • Captain of Sporting Kansas City
  • 2014 Kansas City Sportsman of the Year

2013 MLS

  • MLS All-Star Selection
  • Sporting Kansas City Defensive Player of the Year
  • Selection to the MLS Best XI
  • Helped the defensive unit earn 13 shutouts

2012 MLS

  • MLS Defender of the Year
  • MLS Breakout Player of the Year
  • Selection to the MLS Best XI
  • Sporting Kansas City Defensive Player of the Year
  • Registered two game-winning assists
  • Converted PK to help Sporting Kansas City win the U. S. Open Cup

2011 MLS

  • MLS All-Star Selection

Besler's impressive accolades leave no room for doubt of his superiority on the field. However, something that not everyone knows about the Overland Park, Kansas native is the strength of his passion for giving back to the community. Besler spends countless hours of his time making guest appearances at Sporting Club Network events throughout the year, as well as events for programs like the Victory Project.

"Two of my favorite opportunities to give back to the community are participating in youth clinics around the Kansas City area and also visiting with kids in local hospitals during their treatments and recoveries," Besler said. "The Kansas City community has embraced our team and it's always rewarding for us to be able to return the support."

Besler offers the perfect triple threat: a hometown hero, a champion on the field and in the community, and an inspiration to young soccer players in the Kansas City area. We hope that the excitement Besler has brought to the Soccer Capital of America will rise just as exponentially as his soccer career has since being named Kevin Gray Awards Adult Player of the Year.

For all things Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow us on twitter, @SportingKC_SCN, and like us on Facebook!

16 July 10:50 am

The Kevin Gray Awards, presented by Pepsi, are presented annually to soccer players in the Kansas City area for outstanding performances in a single season. Many Gatorade Player of the Year winners and First Team All-State selections have earned Kevin Gray Award honors. However, it is a unique occurrence that we have the pleasure of bestowing this award upon a player whose performance on the field can truly be matched by his performance off the field.

Derek Schrick, the 2012 Kevin Gray Awards Youth Male Player of the Year and a product of the Sporting KC Development Academy, is one such player. During a calendar year, Schrick will work 10 soccer camps around the Kansas City area. He primarily assists at Sporting KC and Rockhurst High School, but will also work camps for UMKC.

Schrick's coaching camp travels take him as far as Sedalia, Missouri, but he still finds a way to make it look easy. “Not only do I try to teach kids new skills in soccer, I always try to make their experience as enjoyable and positive as I can," Schrick said. "Balancing playing, school, and giving back is a challenge, but it can be done with hard work.”

In addition to coaching camps, Schrick gives up more of his time to volunteer with Special Olympics of Kansas City, as well as a program called the UMKC Bags of Fun Soccer Camp, which raises money to buy toys for children in hospitals.

Schrick was named the 2012 Kevin Gray Awards Youth Male Player of the Year after his senior year at Rockhurst High School, where he was named Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year, one of the highest honors a high school athlete can earn. Going into his freshman season at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Schrick was ranked #66 in an ESPN Rise poll and was a Top Drawer Soccer four-star recruit. Schrick played in 16 games for the Mustangs and registered his first point by delivering a game-winning assist in overtime against Harvard. After his freshman season, he transferred closer to home and joined UMKC. Schrick began what will surely be an exceptional career by scoring in the first game of the 2013 season against Wisconsin.

Schrick’s strong performance on the field and commitment to giving back makes him the ideal selection for a Kevin Gray Awards Player of the Year. Look out for him in the future -- if his passion for giving back to the sport continues, there may be an award named after him some day.

Check back on Wednesday to read about our next Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight, Matt Besler! And for all things Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow us on twitter, @SportingKC_SCN, and like us on Facebook!

15 July 5:36 pm

Sporting Kansas City concludes its two-game road trip with a visit to the Columbus Crew on Wednesday. Peter Vermes' men are fresh off a 2-1 win at Montreal on Saturday as defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi started together for the first time since returning from the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Wednesday's contest features the two best-possessing teams in MLS. Should Sporting KC defeat Columbus, it would be the first time in franchise history that the team has won four straight on the road in the same season. 

Check out MLSsoccer.com's preview as Dan Haiek and Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle discuss what to watch for on Wednesday. Tune into KMCI-TV 38 the Spot and SKCTV across the Midwest, as coverage begins at 6 p.m. CT.

10 July 2:04 pm

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is on the cusp of crowning a champion as Argentina and Germany will meet in the final on Sunday at the historic Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2 p.m. CT live on ABC & Univision). While Germany are making a record eighth appearance in the World Cup final and fourth straight top-four finish after handing the hosts a stunning 7-1 defeat on Tuesday, Argentina have advanced past the quarterfinal round for the first time since doing so in 1986 and 1990 when they ultimately met West Germany in the final on both occasions.

Back then, La Albiceleste fielded Diego Maradona in his prime but today a new age of stars led by captain and four-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi has the South American side on the brink of lifting the World Cup trophy for the first time since 1986 -- nearly a full year before the 27-year-old Messi was born.

Glimpses of this golden generation began to garner attention on the global stage in 2005 at the FIFA World Youth Championship when Argentina's Under-20 squad featured six players now in Brazil on their World Cup roster: Sergio Aguero, Lucas Biglia, Fernando Gago, Ezequiel Garay, Lionel Messi and Pablo Zabaleta. Five of those six were on the field yesterday in Argentina's semifinal showdown versus the Netherlands, including the team's first three shooters in the decisive penalty shootout.

As such, it comes as little surprise that Argentina outlasted the 24-team field in 2005 to claim the prestigious youth title but only after opening the tournament with a stunning group stage upset at the hands of the United States. "There's no excuse for this defeat," said Lionel Messi, who went on to become the tournament's top player and goal scorer.

Turning back the clock nine summers ago, today's Throwback Thursday remembers the roles Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber and forward Jacob Peterson played at Arke Stadium in the Netherlands when the United States Under-20 Men's National Team prevailed 1-0 over Argentina, earned a scoreless draw against Germany and won their group thanks to Peterson's game-winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Egypt.

Benny Feilhaber and the U.S. celebrate Chad Barrett's goal against Argentina

17 June 5:44 pm

A day after the United States began its 2014 FIFA World Cup by knocking off Ghana 2-1, defender Chance Myers and club owner and CEO Robb Heinemann appeared on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Myers talked to Nate Bukaty about the United States' win and Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi's game-winning assit. Heinemann, who has traveled to Brazil for the World Cup, talked to Kevin Kietzman about attending the U.S. match and other eye-opening experiences.

Chance Myers on The Border Patrol

Robb Heinemann on Between the Lines

 

12 June 4:11 pm

As Brazil and Croatia kicked off the 2014 FIFA World Cup today, six Sporting Kansas City players with different nationalities offered their predictions for soccer's most coveted tournament. The picks indicate a shared belief among the players that their home countries will perform well in Brazil.

Player (nationality) World Cup Final prediction Golden Boot winner World Cup dark horse Prediction for native country
Dom Dwyer (English) Brazil over Spain Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) United States England will lose in the quarterfinals
Benny Feilhaber
(Brazilian-American)
Brazil over Argentina Fred (Brazil) Chile Brazil will win the tournament, and the United States will not advance from the group stage
Alex Martinez (Uruguayan) Uruguay over Germany Luis Suarez (Uruguay) Belgium Uruguay will win the tournament

Jimmy Medranda (Colombian)

Argentina over Brazil Lionel Messi (Argentina) Colombia Colombia will lose in the quarterfinals
Victor Munoz (Spanish) Spain over Argentina Neymar (Brazil) Belgium Spain will win the tournament
Paulo Nagamura (Brazilian) Brazil over Argentina Neymar (Brazil) Colombia Brazil will win the tournament

 

10 June 12:47 pm
On Monday, Major League Soccer released the latest results from fan voting for the 2014 MLS All-Star Game and six Sporting Kansas City players are among the leaders at their respective positions. Captain Matt Besler has received the most votes of all defenders, while Eric Kronberg, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic, Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber are also in early contention for selection to the All-Star Fan XI.
 
Voting opened on May 28 and will continue through July 11. Additionally, votes will be tallied thru Twitter from July 2-6 and via EA SPORTS FIFA 14. The All-Star Fan XI -- one goalkeeper, three defenders, four midfielders and three forwards -- will be revealed on July 16.
The 2014 MLS All-Star Game will be held on Aug. 6 featuring German champions Bayern Munich at Portland's Providence Park. 
 
GOALKEEPERS
1. Nick Rimando (RSL)
2. Julio Cesar (TOR)
3. Eric Kronberg (SKC)
4. Donovan Ricketts (POR)
5. Jaime Penedo (LA)
 
DEFENDERS
1. Matt Besler (SKC)
2. Omar Gonzalez (LA)
3. DeAndre Yedlin (SEA)
4. Aurelien Collin (SKC)
5. Chad Marshall (SEA)
6. Seth Sinovic (SKC)
7. Steven Beitashour (VAN)
 
MIDFIELDERS
1. Clint Dempsey (SEA)
2. Michael Bradley (TOR)
3. Kyle Beckerman (RSL)
4. Graham Zusi (SKC)
5. Tim Cahill (NY)
6. Will Johnson (POR)
7. Benny Feilhaber (SKC)