Not many people knew it as the 2016 season unfolded, but Sporting Kansas City battled through most of last year with the duo fighting constant discomfort.
The good news is that both players have undergone successful surgeries during the offseason. Dwyer had arthroscopic surgery to clean up bone spurs in his right ankle in November, then Besler had the same surgery performed on his left ankle early last month.
Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes provided updates on the players during Friday’s press conference at Swope Soccer Village. With the squad departing for Tucson, Arizona on Monday to begin preseason training, Besler and Dwyer will likely be eased into the action.
“They both have progressed really well,” Vermes said. “These were two surgeries that were probably overdue. I doubt that either of them would be full capacity on Monday, but we’ll sort of build them in as preseason goes.
“If we have to sacrifice a couple of weeks early on in the preseason, so be it. The benefit that they got from the surgery is going to be very welcome moving forward. Both guys played with a lot of pain over the course of last year.”
Despite nagging pain in his ankle, Dwyer turned in a stellar 2016 campaign as Sporting KC’s front man. The Englishman scored 16 times in 34 MLS appearances to become just the third player in club history to notch 12 goals in three straight regular seasons.
Besler played 19 matches in 2016, his fewest total since 2010, but came on strong in October — delivering a standout performance for the U.S. Men’s National Team against New Zealand and anchoring the Sporting KC defense in consecutive shutouts versus Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes.
Vermes expects Besler and Dwyer to be ready for the club’s 2017 opener at D.C. United on March 4.
The path to full recovery will take more time for Diego Rubio, Vermes confirmed. The Chilean striker became the first player in team history to score in the regular season, U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League in the same season, but suffered a torn ACL in October. The 23-year-old Rubio will return to training in June or July.