Peter Vermes laments another Matt Besler absence, doesn't begrudge him spot on USMNT
But after spending all of June without Besler and winger/midfielder Graham Zusi because of World Cup qualifying with the Nats, Sporting Kansas City's manager isn't thrilled about losing the All-Star center back again – perhaps through the final on July 28.
“I've said this in the past: I always support our national team's program,” Vermes said on Thursday during the club's weekly news conference. “But it doesn't make me happy. Those guys have been gone for every single qualifier, and all the other things that have gone on up to this point, so I'd rather have him here – but I understand where it is.”
Besler and his central defense partner in World Cup Qualifying, LA's Omar Gonzalez, were among four replacement players called in for the knockout stage, which begins with a quarterfinal match on Sunday against El Salvador (4 pm ET, FOX, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
Vermes, whose East-leading club has an important away date with West leaders Real Salt Lake on Saturday (9 pm CT, KSMO-TV & 810 WHB), did acknowledge the upside of having Besler get more experience in regional competition – especially with Sporting set to open CONCACAF Champions League play next month.
“That experience is massive, for sure,” he said. “Those games take on a completely different – they're not like an MLS game. Everything is different, completely different. Even the refereeing – just look at the Gold Cup right now, and you'll see that the refereeing is completely different. You either have to have the experience, or you have to learn really quickly if you're going to survive.”
Besler, who only broke into the national team picture in January, has emerged as one of coach Jurgen Klinsmann's regulars since then with four starts in qualifying – three of those as the US picked up all nine possible points from Hex play in June.
“He's been growing,” said two-time All-Star Aurelien Collin, Besler's backline partner with Sporting and a fellow member of the MLS Best XI in 2012. “When I came here, he wasn't even in the starting XI, and now he's a big player in the United States. I'm proud of him, but I'm not surprised by his position, because he's always been a big warrior, a great player.”
With qualifying picking up again in the fall, there's a good chance Sporting could be without Besler again for a good chunk of the regular-season stretch run. And while he'll be missed once more in Kansas City if that's the case, Vermes doesn't begrudge the center back his mainstay status.
“It's a great place to be, for sure,” the manager said. “To quote Spiderman: 'With great power comes great responsibility.' So he's going to have to make sure he's up for the challenge each time. But I have to say that he's come a long way.”