Match Preview: The First Leg of the Western Conference Final set to kickoff Sunday, November 25

Matt Besler’s ideal Thanksgiving meal is as American as the very country he has represented 47 times over the course of his wildly successful career.


Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy all mixed together into a savory heap. A small side of stuffing, a scoop of green beans and more than enough sweet potato casserole topped with brown sugar crumbles. And to top it all off, a slice of old fashioned apple pie.


The Sporting KC captain shared his Thanksgiving favorites on Wendesday morning during his customary appearance on Sports Radio 810 with Border Patrol hosts Nate Bukaty and Steven St. John.


After discussing Turkey Day traditions, they directed their attention to Sunday’s first leg of the Western Conference Championship, which will see Sporting KC visit the Portland Timbers at 6:30 p.m. CT on FS1, FOX Deportes, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.


“We respect Portland a lot, and every time we go up there, we know it’s going to be extremely difficult,” Besler said of the matchup. “Providence Park one of the hardest places to play, and they have one of the best home field advantages in the league—just like us. This year alone, they have played 20 home games and lost just two of them.”


Besler’s math is 100 percent accurate. Portland are 14-2-4 at home in all competitions, having outscored their opponents 35-14. Nevertheless, it’s a challenge Sporting KC will be relishing. Manager Peter Vermes’ men also have some recent history on their side, boasting a 5-1-4 record against the Timbers in their last 10 regular season meetings.


“We get up for the difficult games and the tough environments,” Besler continued. “One of our best qualities is that we are able to control a game. With the way that we’re able to keep the ball at home and away, that really helps in difficult environments like Portland. It helps us relax and takes a little bit of the pressure off, so we’ll be looking to do that this Sunday.”


Sporting KC will be without suspended forward Diego Rubio on Sunday. The Chilean picked up two yellow cards in the conference semifinal series against Real Salt Lake, opening the door for another Sporting KC attacker to step into the starting lineup. Besler knows that whoever ends up replacing Rubio will fit in seamlessly.


“This is easily one of the deepest teams that I’ve ever been on, and we’ve proven that over the course of the season,” he said. “It seems like anytime a guy is missing, the next guy in line has always stepped up and played extremely well. Whoever gets the call will have enough confidence that they’ll get the job done.”


Listen to the full podcast below.