Sporting KC captain Matt Besler joined The Program with Soren Petro on Sports Radio 810 to discuss the team’s season, the USWNT World Cup victory, and the state of soccer in the United States. Listen to the full 18-minute interview below.
Besler represented the United States in the World Cup last summer alongside Sporting KC teammate Graham Zusi, and is of the opinion that the talent pool of soccer in the United States will increase as more children are learning the game. He told Petro “My generation is the first that grew up as kids playing soccer, and now the game is being passed down to the our kids, and that is going to help the game grow.”
Besler, who was selected 8th overall in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, has started at least 10 games every season since his debut, and was voted MLS defender of the year in both 2012 and 2013 as well as MLS Best XI in 2012, and 2013, and MLS Fan XI in 2014.
This week’s Sporting Spotlight shifts its’ focus to rookie defender Saad Abdul-Salaam. The 23-year-old fullback recorded his first professional assist in Sporting KC’s 6-2 win over FC Dallas in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and has impressed with raw athletic ability and aggression down the flanks in his first six MLS appearances.
38 the Spot host Crystle Lampitt caught up with the University of Akron product to learn about his childhood memories, as well as his relationship with his roommate, and fellow rookie Amadou Dia.
Tune in Monday mornings for the newest Sporting Spotlight on 38 The Spot, or check out their YouTube playlist to watch previous segments.
- +25 Entries: Submit Form (name, email, address, birthday)
- +25 Entries: Share the sweepstakes on Twitter
- +25 Entries: Share the sweepstakes on Facebook
- +10 Entries: Like the Kansas City Steak Company on Facebook
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The SweepSTEAKS ends on July 31 with a winner to be randomly selected. The Kansas City Steak Company is the presenting sponsor of Sporting Kansas City's official podcast, Snippets of Sporting, which is available three days each week at SportingKC.com and iTunes.
The Sporting Club Network, presented by Price Chopper, is very excited to host a brand new contest called #SCNskills! Starting July 6th, all members of the Sporting Club Network are invited to share videos showing off their best soccer tricks and skills via any of the SCN social media platforms. Each member that successfully submits an entry will have the chance to win exclusive Sporting KC prizes, including meet-and-greets with players and even a grand prize gameday experience at Sporting Park. Do you think you have what it takes?
For more information regarding the #SCNskills contest and how you can enter to win these exciting prizes, visit www.sportingkc.com/scnskills. And to stay up-to-date on all things Sporting Club Network, be sure to follow the SCN on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Good luck!
This week’s Sporting Spotlight shines brightly on Kansas City’s own Jon Kempin. KMCI-TV 38 the Spot host Crystle Lampitt chatted with the 22-year-old homegrown goalkeeper to learn more about his dedication to soccer.
Kempin, who turned pro in 2010, is currently enrolled at Johnson County Community College in pursuit of a business degree. Kempin also speaks about his new Christmas gift: a puppy affectionately nicknamed “Chewy."
Tune in every Monday morning for the newest Sporting Spotlight on 38 The Spot or check out their YouTube playlist to catch up on previous segments.
Every year, MLS WORKS teams up with Wells Fargo to honor individuals who have gone out of their way to make a difference in their community. This is in effort to recognize and celebrate these selfless individuals’ hard work which betters the world around them. Nominees must be leaders in their community who have used soccer as a tool for improvement.
One Community MVP is chosen from each of the 20 MLS club markets based on their efforts in social issues, health issues and community service. This year, each of the Community MVP's will be recognized nationally at the 2015 MLS All-Star Game in Denver.
Last year, Brandi Leggett was chosen to represent the Sporting KC community for her involvement in the Sporting Kansas City Active Readers Program. Leggett helped create the program in 2013, which builds enthusiasm for reading through soccer.
Do you know someone that has made a difference in their community through soccer this year? From now until July 5, fans can nominate individuals who go above and beyond to improve and inspire their community. Go to www.mlssoccer.com/communitymvp to submit a nomination.
Grand Prize voting will take place from July 10 through July 29. The winner will be announced during halftime of the 2015 MLS All-Star Game.
Chipotle is teaming up with MLS to give fans a chance to win a VIP Flyaway to enjoy MLS All-Star festivities including the Chipotle MLS Homegrown game and the AT&T 2015 MLS All-Star game in Denver, Colorado.
To enter the sweepstakes, text HOMEGROWN to 888222. The trip package for four includes airfare, ground transportation, hotel, and $5,000 spending money, along with tickets to both games.
MLS’s top young talent will clash with Mexican Side, Club América’s U-20 squad in the second-annual Chipotle Homegrown MLS game. The match will take place Tuesday, July 28 at 8 p.m. CT, 7 p.m. MT, and will serve as a prelude to the AT&T 2015 MLS All-Star game, as the best MLS has to offer take on English side Tottenham Hotspur the following night.
The contest ends July 5, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. CT with full rules available here.
For this last Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight, all eyes turn toward Nick Besler, the 2011 Kevin Gray Male Youth Player of the Year. Since receiving the honor following his record-breaking career at Blue Valley West High School, Besler has enjoyed plenty of soccer success both at the University of Notre Dame and now with the Portland Timbers. A three-year starter while at Notre Dame, Besler certainly made an impact in the midfield for the Irish, notching spots on the All-ACC First Team and NCAA All-Tournament Team in 2013. Nick also served as team captain during his senior season, which only added to his already impressive soccer résumé. Despite all of these individual accolades, though, Besler believes that there is one team achievement that stands above the rest.
“The national championship I won my junior year is what I'm most proud of," Besler said of Notre Dame's victory over Maryland in the 2013 final. "While I have won individual awards as well, there is that feeling of accomplishing something together as a team that is much more rewarding. Winning a national championship is something that I will never forget."
The Irish won by a 2-1 scoreline and Besler assisted the goal that tied the game in the 40th minute. The following year, Notre Dame earned a #1 seed in the College Cup and advanced to the third round before falling 1-0 to eventual winners Virginia.
Although the team came up a bit short in 2014, Besler graduated from Notre Dame with his sights set on a professional soccer career—and rightly so. This past January, Nick was selected fifth overall by the Portland Timbers in the 2015 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, which made him the highest MLS draft pick in Notre Dame history. The previous owner of that distinction was Nick’s older brother, Matt -- the Sporting Kansas City team captain and World Cup veteran was selected eighth overall in 2009. Of his relationship with his brother, Nick says that “Matt has been a great role model for me…and the way he goes about his own career has been the thing that I've noticed the most.”
With regard to his time with the Timbers thus far, Nick pointed out that the main difference he has observed between college and professional soccer is the speed of play.
“Everything has to be quicker at this level,” he said, “[but] I feel like I have adjusted well to the new city and the new team.”
Looking ahead, Besler says that “my plan is to keep growing as a soccer player and continue to improve. Right now, I will continue to get minutes with [the Timbers’ USL developmental side] T2 and hopefully I will have an impact with the first team.”
Best of luck to Nick in the future! If all goes well, we at Sporting KC will look forward to potential Besler v. Besler match-ups whenever the Timbers come to town. Click here to read more about the Besler brothers’ “First Family” status within the Notre Dame men’s soccer program.
Think you know your Sporting Kansas City trivia? You may be in luck.
When the club hosts Colorado on Saturday, users of the Sporting Club Uphoria mobile app will have the opportunity to win free tickets to next Wednesday's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 match against FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m. CT.
That's right, supporters will have three separate opportunities to win a pair of tickets on Saturday evening—so long as they have a Uphoria account registered through Facebook, Twitter or email.
Three separate Comment Cards will be deployed throughout the night, each prompting a different response from contestants. The first trivia question will revolve around the #SKCvCOL rivalry. The second will be tied to Kansas City in the Open Cup. Answer correctly on either one, and you'll be entered to win.
Trivia not your cup of tea? The third and final Comment Card will allow fans to use their imagination, and the most creative entry will take the prize. (Hint: think Peter Vermes!)
Pictured in this post are sample Comment Card trivia questions so that you know what to look for on the home screen come Saturday. Please note that only one Comment Card will be displayed on the app's home feed at any given time.
The first Comment Card will deploy at 6 p.m. CT and the second at 7:45 p.m. CT. The third will launch at 9 p.m. CT and expire at midnight. Select "Give Feedback," then type your response and click "Send" to enter.
Participants will be able to submit one single answer for all three cards, and winners will be contacted via Facebook, Twitter or email by Monday afternoon.
In addition to playing for free Open Cup tickets, Uphoria users will have access to live video, statistics, stadium seat upgrades and Sporting KC social feeds throughout Saturday's match. Whether you're in attendance at Sporting Park or in the comfort of your own home, Uphoria is your comprehensive mobile companion for every game this season.
Best of luck, #SKCNation!
Our second Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight of the week features 2012 Kevin Gray Adult Player of the Year, Adrianna “AD” Franch. Originally from Salina, Kansas and a South High School graduate, AD boasted an impressive soccer background even before moving on to college and becoming a professional not long after. During her high school career, AD was a three-year member of the Kansas Olympic Development Program and earned All-State, All-Southwest Region and All-League honors as the starting goalie for the Cougars.
Franch, who as a child used to be called the “next Bri Scurry," then went on to become one of the most decorated players in Big 12 soccer history. Starting for Oklahoma State University all four years, Franch helped the Cowgirls secure back-to-back Big 12 Championships in 2009 and 2010. On an individual level, AD was named to the All-Big 12 Conference First Team four times, was a three-time All-American and currently holds the Oklahoma State career record for shutouts with 38 -- a number that ranks sixth all time in NCAA history.
Thanks to these remarkable statistics, AD immediately began getting looks from the U.S. Women’s National Team coaches. In 2010, her sophomore year, she was called up to the U-20 squad to compete at the World Cup in Germany and in 2012, she played on the U-23 team that won the Three Nations Tournament in Norway. Later that same year, Franch was invited to train with the senior U.S. WNT in preparation for the 2012 Olympics in London. Balancing national team duties with her responsibilities as a leader on the Oklahoma State women’s team was not easy, AD remarked, but all of her efforts proved to be worthwhile as Franch was drafted into the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in January 2013 by the Western New York Flash. She was the sixth pick overall and the first goalkeeper selected by any team.
“Knowing that I achieved one of my biggest dreams and being able to say that I am professional soccer player was [one of] my proudest accomplishments,” AD said of the moment.
Just a few short months later, Franch made her professional debut for the Flash, making eight saves in the game and earning Player of the Week honors from Equalizer Soccer. After the match, Western New York head coach Aaran Lines said, “I see the future national team goalkeeper of the U.S.”
From there, AD’s success only continued. At the end of her rookie season, Franch was both a regular season titleholder and had also been named to the NWSL Second XI. Unfortunately, in March 2014, Franch suffered a torn right ACL during the first week of preseason and was forced to miss the entire 2014 season.
Following an 18-month recovery period and break from competition, Franch has recently signed with Norwegian Toppserien club Avaldsnes IL, officially leaving the Western New York Flash. According to AD, many emotions accompanied her long-awaited return to professional play.
“I was excited to get back, proud of the work put in to come back, and had a sense of relief to finally be back,” she told us.
Long term, Franch intends to continue pursuing further soccer success and says that “watching the World Cup makes me excited and motivated to keep making strides for the next one [in 2019].”
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our last Kevin Gray Awards Spotlight on Notre Dame grad and Portland Timbers rookie Nick Besler! To stay up to date on all things Sporting Club Network, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!