Matt Besler has already helped bring one piece of silverware to his hometown club. The chance to win even more is what kept him with Sporting Kansas City.
Now, the All-Star center back hopes to make good on that chance as his club heads into the MLS Cup playoffs, starting with Saturday's Eastern Conference away leg against the New England Revolution.
“This is what you play for,” Besler said on Thursday, during the club's weekly news conference. “It's why I came back, why I signed an extension. It's not because I'm from here and I wanted to stay in my hometown and live in my hometown. I love that, but the main reason I stayed here is that I wanted to win a championship with Sporting KC. I think we have the group to do it and I want to be a part of it.”
Besler, who was on the pitch for every minute of Sporting's U.S. Open Cup title victory in 2012 and signed his extension this past offseason, is the anchor of a back line – along with fellow central defender Aurelien Collin and fullbacks Seth Sinovic and Chance Myers – that has been together for the last three seasons.
With that corps augmented by center back Ike Opara and backed up by veteran keeper Jimmy Nielsen, and with Kansas City giving up a league-low 30 goals in the regular season, Besler believes Sporting have the defense to make a run all the way into the MLS Cup title match.
“I believe that defense always gives you a chance to win,” he said. “Look at the (unbeaten NFL) Chiefs. If you have a good defense, you're usually going to be in the game. It's not 100 percent the recipe to win or to advance, but we believe a great defense gives us a really good chance.”
Still, Besler isn't looking all the way ahead to the final – which, if Sporting reach it, would be played in Kansas City.
“I'm not taking this one for granted,” he said. “I think every time you get into the playoffs, it's a big deal, and it's not easy to get in there every year. So I think this group isn't taking anything for granted.”