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:
- 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
- Captain of Sporting Kansas City
- 2014 Kansas City Sportsman of the Year
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Jaycie Johnson, winner of the 2013 Kevin Gray Awards Youth Female Player of the Year, made sure to continue to build on her successes from high school soccer almost immediately. She began doing this just months after winning the prestigious award by bursting on the scene at the University of Nebraska women’s soccer program, and followed up by putting on one of the greatest single season performances that the Huskers have ever seen.
In the summer of 2013, Jaycie was named Kevin Gray Awards Youth Female Player of the Year. The Kevin Gray Awards, presented by Pepsi, are given in remembrance of the late Kansas City Sports Commissioner, and recognize the top players, coaches, and ambassadors in the KC soccer community over the past year. On being named Kevin Gray Awards Female Player of the Year, Jacyie said, “It meant the world to me getting honored with this award... It has made me work so much harder towards soccer and my training just to make him proud.”
And work hard she did. At the start of her college career, Jaycie was ranked as the No. 42 Forward in the country, and the No. 4 Forward in the Heartland Region. These rankings certainly proved to be accurate, if not an understatement of the simply extraordinary talent that Jaycie possesses. Just six weeks after Jaycie was honored during half time at a Sporting KC game for earning the title of Kevin Gray Awards Youth Female Player of the Year, Jaycie was leaping in to the arms of her teammates in celebration of scoring the first goal of her college career. This would become a familiar sight during the 2013 Fall season, as Jaycie netted a whopping 17 goals in all competitions, including 7 game winners. Check out some of her video highlights here.
There certainly is no shortage of statistics for the prolific Jaycie Johnson, here are a few of her most notable accomplishments from just her freshman year:
- 2013 All-Big Ten Second Team
- 2013 All-Big Ten Freshman Team - Unanimous Selection
- 2013 Big Ten All-Tournament Team
- 2013 Big Ten Tournament - Offensive Player of the Tournament
- Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week (Aug.26)
- 3X Big Ten Freshman of the Week (Aug. 26,Sept. 23,Oct. 28)
- 2013 TopDrawerSoccer.com Best XI - First Team Freshman
- 2013 Soccer America All-Freshman First Team
- First freshman in NCAA Tournament history to score four goals in a match
- First freshman at Nebraska to score four goals in a match
Big 10 defenders beware, the freshman phenom now has a year of experience under her belt. With 17 goals in her first college season, we can only expect that Jaycie Johnson, 2013 Kevin Gray Awards Female Player of the Year, will continue her spectacular run of form and impress upon the nation the superior kind of talent that soccer players from Kansas City can produce.
Check back in on Wednesday to read about our next Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight: former Sporting KC Academy player, Derek Schrick. And for all things Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow us on twitter, @SportingKC_SCN, and like us on Facebook!
Created with flickr slideshow.
When a five year old is asked what they want for their birthday, they are usually very anxious and eager to answer with his or her wish list. Perhaps stating the newest iPad or some action figures, or something else they can play with. But for Brody Davis, his sixth birthday would be different.
His birthday party was at the Kansas City Police Academy on Saturday, where he had a wonderful time with his friends and family. But instead of receiving gifts he had asked for, Brody told his guests to bring new soccer items so they could donate to kids in need. This generous and caring six year old was willing to take the focus off himself and highlight those in need.
Once Brody’s mother, Sherri Davis, learned of this selfless act she contacted Sporting KC’s foundation - The Victory Project. The plan is to distribute the donated items this fall at the next Recycle Your Game event, which aims to donate soccer items to disadvantaged youth in Kansas City.
As avid Sporting KC fans and current Season Ticket Members, the Davis family is no stranger to the organization. Little Brody has been able to experience the club and has grown to admire Graham Zusi as his role model. Brody also had the opportunity to give Graham his MLS Cup ring at a ceremony held in Sporting Park this May, after his mom won a fan contest.
Brody is a testament to the fact that there is no age limit to generosity and kindness, showing us that all can start a movement to impact the lives of others. The old saying “big things come in small packages” exemplifies this little boy and his enormous heart for others.
For those interested in hosting their own Victory Project or who want to learn more about the movement, please visit VictoryKC.org or follow on Twitter.
Thousands of soccer fans packed Kansas City Power & Light on Monday as the United States kicked off its 2014 FIFA World Cup with a 2-1 win over Ghana. The World Cup Watch Party, presented by The Sprint Framily Plan as part of Summer in the Soccer Capital, produced some moments that won't soon be forgotten. Catch them all here.
- Must be following @SportingKC_SCN on Twitter or like the page on Facebook
- Must tag @SportingKC_SCN in the tweet or post their picture to the Facebook page
- Must include the hashtag #ForClubAndCountry in the social media post
- Must include a picture of an SCN member watching a World Cup game, while wearing their SCN team gear or Sporting KC attire.
- For Club And Country limited edition SKC/USMNT Scarves: three (3) to be given away to SCN members after each USMNT game, as well as the World Cup Final
- GRAND PRIZE – Four (4) match tickets to Sporting KC vs. Manchester City (face value of $60/each) at Sporting Park on July 23rd
When it comes to following one's club on the road, supporters of MLS clubs have it harder than other parts of the world. With a league that spans two countries and thousands of miles between coasts, no one can blame a supporter for not making the trek for an away match. Kansas City to Chicago is about an eight-hour drive and Saturday at 11:30 p.m., the traveling KC Cauldron's #roaddron embarked on that journey with about 450 people in tow.
By plane, train, and various automobiles, the #roaddron arrived in the Windy City to watch Sporting Kansas City take on the Chicago Fire. After a memorable match, I heard few complaints from the traveling support. We watched our promising young center back make his league debut, saw our team nearly come back for a road result with only 10 men and filled in the corner of Toyota Park with Sporting KC chants, songs and cheers. Heads and scarves held high, the #roaddron took off for home following the match.
A special thanks to the Chicago Fire organization for their accomodations on Sunday and an even bigger thanks to the KC Cauldron for being the best fans in the league.
Carter Knox, from Sporting Kaw Valley, was named the Sporting Club Network’s first Youth Reporter at the beginning of April and earned a special gameday experience at Sporting Park. While leaving the state-of-the-art venue, he mentioned to his mom, Kristi, “It’s like when we leave Disney.”
Carter and his three guests had a whirlwind of an evening starting with a private tour of Sporting Park. He participated in a question-and-answer session with 38 The Spot host Crystle Lampitt, met the voice of Sporting Park, Eric Danielson, watched the team warm-up from the sideline, visited the video truck to see how the game is produced and listened alongside Sporting’s play-by-play commentators Cal Williams and Diego Gutierrez.
The evening came to a close with an on-field recognition of Carter during half time, throwing confetti in the air celebrating a Sporting KC 4-0 victory over Montreal Impact and watching the post-game press conference featuring Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes and forward Dom Dwyer inside the Interview Room. It was a special occasion and couldn’t have been summed up much better than by Carter’s mother, Kristi: “Up until this point, he said the best day of his life was when we went to Star Wars Weekend at Disney World… now today I think this might trump that a little!”
For future details on the next Sporting KC Youth Reporter contest and to stay informed on all things Sporting Club Network, make sure to follow the SCN on Twitter & like them on Facebook.
Sporting KC and Rally House are launching a month-long, enter-to-win sweepstakes beginning at 9 a.m. CT on Thursday. Sporting KC fans can enter to win online at SportingKC.com or at any Rally House/Kansas Sampler location in Kansas City.
Tomorrow's launch of the Rally House Ultimate Fan Experience is offering up a major prize pack for one lucky Sporting KC supporter. The winner receives the following:
- $500 credit/gift card for a shopping spree with a Sporting Kansas City player
- Authentic Sporting Kansas City jersey
Two (2) tickets to a Sporting Kansas City match including:
- Sporting Kansas City player meet-and-greet
- Sporting Park stadium tour
- Pre-game field access to watch warm-ups
Starting tomorrow, enter to win online at SportingKC.com/RallyHouse or fill out a form at one of the seven Kansas City metro area Rally House and Kansas Sampler locations. In addition, Soony Saad and Dom Dwyer will be at Rally House in North Kansas City for a free autograph session on May 6th from 6-7:30 p.m. CT.
The contest ends on May 31 and the winner will be randomly chosen on June 2nd. Follow @KansasSampler and @SportingKC on Twitter for all the latest on the contest, and be sure to check out the Rally House Sporting KC Fans page on Facebook. For the official promotion rules, click here.