Matt Besler - Sporting KC vs Real Salt Lake - April 11, 2015

SPORTING KC TO FACE DEFENDING MLS CUP CHAMPION LA GALAXY ON SATURDAY
Sporting KC is on the road Saturday to face reigning MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy at 9:30 p.m. CT at StubHub Center in Carson, California. The match will be broadcast live on SKCTV across the Midwest and available locally on KMCI-TV 38 the Spot with three hours of on-site coverage beginning at 9 p.m. CT. In addition, listeners can follow the match live on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish).


Tied for third place in the Western Conference and riding a four-game unbeaten streak, Sporting KC (2-1-3, 9 points) will seek their league-leading 26th MLS road win since the start of 2012 against an LA Galaxy side that hasn't lost at StubHub Center in 25 games across all competitions dating back to the 2014 season opener. Saturday's matchup features the league's last two MLS Cup champions—Sporting KC in 2013 and LA Galaxy in 2014—and two of five clubs to reach the postseason every year since 2011.


Despite meeting LA only three times in past three years—securing two wins and a draw—Sporting KC has played the Galaxy more than any other team in club history (53 games, 19-23-11 record). The clubs have also met nine times in the postseason (tied for KC's most frequent playoff opponent), and face off as intra-conference opponents on Saturday for the first time since 2004.


The Galaxy have won three of the last four MLS Cups and are currently sixth (2-2-2, 8 points) in the Western Conference after a 1-0 win over defending Supporters' Shield champion Seattle Sounders FC last Sunday.


MATT BESLER ON UNITED STATES ROSTER TO FACE MEXICO TONIGHT
Sporting KC captain Matt Besler is a member of the United States Men's National Team roster for tonight's international friendly against Mexico. The CONCACAF rivals will play at 7:30 p.m. CT live on FOX Sports 1, UniMas and UDN from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.


Besler has made 25 career international appearances for the United States since his debut in 2013, including starts in all four U.S. MNT matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The 28-year-old made his 150th MLS regular season start for Sporting KC last night and recorded game-winning assists in the team's previous two matches.


An Overland Park, Kansas native, Besler is in his seventh professional season since being selected in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft out of Notre Dame. He is a three-time MLS All-Star (2011, 2013, 2014) and has twice been named to the MLS Best XI (2012, 2013) to go along with an MLS Defender of the Year honor in 2012.


Besler is one of eight defenders on Jurgen Klinsmann's 22-player roster. He will re-join Sporting Kansas City on Thursday in Los Angeles in preparation for the team's Week 7 road match against reigning MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy on Saturday.


SPORTING KC DEFENDER IKE OPARA SUFFERS RUPTURED ACHILLES TENDON
Sporting KC announced on Monday that defender Ike Opara has been diagnosed with a ruptured Achilles tendon in his left ankle. Additional details will be made available following further medical evaluations.


Opara suffered the injury in the 81st minute of Saturday’s scoreless draw between Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park. The 26-year-old centerback had played every minute of the team’s first six games until that point after coming back from a season-ending surgery in his right ankle one year ago.


He leads Sporting KC – and all MLS defenders – with two goals in 2015, while also anchoring a backline that has three shutouts and has conceded the fewest shots per game (9.83) of any team in the league this season. In addition, Opara leads all MLS players in 2015 with 30 interceptions and 33 aerials won, while ranking second in duels won (55).


Opara was named to MLSsoccer.com’s Team of the Week in three of the season’s first four weeks and finished third in MLS Player of the Month voting for March. He has made 66 MLS appearances (including postseason) in six professional seasons since being selected No. 3 overall by the San Jose Earthquakes in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.


SPORTING KC AND REAL SALT LAKE BATTLE TO 0-0 DRAW AT SPORTING PARK
Sporting KC extended the club's unbeaten streak to four games with a scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake last Saturday in front of a sold out crowd of more than 20,000 fans at Sporting Park.


The first of three regular season meetings between the Western Conference rivals in 2015 ended in a defensive deadlock as Sporting KC held Real Salt Lake without a shot on goal in the draw. Real Salt Lake entered as the league's second-highest scoring team with 1.50 goals per game but failed to put an attempt on target for only the fourth time in their history.


In addition, Real Salt Lake managed to create just one chance throughout the match, the fewest in team history during the Opta era (2011-present). Sporting KC, meanwhile, created 10 chances and came closest to breaking the deadlock when Krisztian Nemeth's header bounced off the post shortly after halftime. Midfielder Benny Feilhaber nearly added to his MLS-best four assists with five chances created in the game.


OPARA AND FEILHABER MAKE TEAM OF THE WEEK APPEARANCES
Defender Ike Opara continued his strong start to the 2015 season in a 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake last Saturday. Before suffering a left Achilles tendon injury in the 84th minute, he won 13 duels and helped limit Real Salt Lake to zero shots on goal and just one chance created—both all-time recorded lows for the Utah club. Opara’s contribution to the shutout—Sporting KC’s third in four matches—landed him a spot on Goal.com’s Team of the Week.


Another in-form Sporting KC player, MLS assist leader Benny Feilhaber, received a spot on NBC Pro Soccer Talk’s Team of the Week. The 30-year-old has four assists this season and nearly added to that total last Saturday, creating a game-high five chances in addition to leading all starters with a 90 percent passing accuracy.


GRAND OPENING OF TOPEKA'S SUNFLOWER SOCCER COMPLEX SET FOR SATURDAY 
On Saturday, Sporting KC defender Chance Myers will be in attendance for the grand opening of the Sunflower Soccer Complex (4829 NW 17th St.) in Topeka, Kansas from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CT. The ribbon cutting ceremony will also feature a Harvesters canned food drive, raffles and family-friendly activities.


TICKETS ON SALE FOR CONCACAF GOLD CUP DOUBLEHEADER ON JULY 13
Tickets are now on sale via Ticketmaster.com for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup doubleheader to be played at Sporting Park on July 13. The United States Men's National Team will face Panama at 8:30 pm. CT in the Group A finale after Haiti takes on either Honduras or French Guiana at 6 p.m. CT. CONCACAF announced the group stage matchups for the 12-team tournament last month.


All tickets provide entry to both matches with prices starting at $35 for general admission seating in the South Stand or Members Stand. Sporting KC could feature players on three of the teams competing at Sporting Park that evening—Matt Besler and Graham Zusi of the U.S., Haitian midfielder Soni Mustivar and Honduran midfielder Roger Espinoza.


The Gold Cup is the region’s marquee national team tournament and the headline competition for the United States Men’s National Team in 2015. This year’s tournament carries additional significance as it will determine CONCACAF's representatives at the Centennial Cup America in 2016 and the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017.


SKC ACADEMY U16'S AND U18'S EXTEND UNBEATEN RUNS AGAINST FC DALLAS
The Sporting KC under-16 and under-18 Academy teams put their unbeaten runs to the test against perennial powers FC Dallas on Saturday and emerged with a pair of draws in the U.S. Soccer. Development Academy doubleheader held at the University of Tulsa. 


The U18's (9-7-4, 7th place in the Central Conference) secured a 2-2 tie, receiving goals from Daniel Salloi and Alberto Sanchez, to remain firmly in postseason contention and extend their undefeated streak to eight games.


The U16's (4-6-10, 9th place in the Central Conference) followed suit by holding Frontier Division leaders FC Dallas to a scoreless draw. Coming off a sixth-place showing in the Champions Division of last weekend's Generation adidas Cup, the U16's are now unbeaten in their last 10 U.S. Soccer Development Academy matches since the start of 2015. 


Both Academy teams will next host Texans SC Houston on Saturday, April 25 at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Missouri. Follow @SKCAcademy on Twitter and Instagram for all the latest updates.


SPORTING KC ACADEMY ADDS UNDER-13 TEAM FOR 2015-16 SEASON
Sporting KC announced last Wednesday the addition of an under-13 Academy team—the fifth competitive age group available in the club's youth development program (U12, U13, U14, U16, U18)—for the 2015-16 season. 


The initial round of tryouts for the under-13 Sporting KC Academy team will be held from 6-8 p.m. CT on Wednesday, May 6th or Thursday, May 7th at Swope Soccer Village (6310 Lewis Road) in Kansas City, Missouri. Registration is free and open to all players born in 2002. Select players will then be invited to return for further evaluation on Tuesday, May 18 and Wednesday, May 19. For more information on the U13 tryouts, visit SportingKC.com.


YOGA ON THE PITCH SET FOR SATURDAY, MAY 2 AT SPORTING PARK
The Victory Project announced Friday that it will host a “Yoga on the Pitch” fundraising event at Sporting Park on Saturday, May 2.


The 60-minute all levels yoga class will on be held on the pitch and will help raise funds for The Victory Project and the Leukemia Lymphoma Society through Man of the Year candidate, Hunter Re. Yoga will be led by lululemon athletica Ambassadors and Pop-Up Yoga KC. Select Sporting KC players will also participate in the class and will hold an autograph session afterwards.


Yoga on the Pitch is open to people of all ages. The cost for the event is $50 and includes yoga, an event tank top and the chance to win prizes courtesy of lululemon, Sporting KC and other local companies. Visit SportingKC.com/yoga to sign up for the event. To learn more about fundraising initiatives supporting The Victory Project, follow @VictoryKC on Twitter and visit VictoryKC.org.


SPORTING KC TO HOST OPEN TRYOUTS JUNE 13-14
Sporting KC will host the team's 2015 open tryouts on June 13-14 at Swope Soccer Village (6310 Lewis Road) in Kansas City, Missouri. Online registration is now open and will be available to the first 200 players who are 18 years or older.


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The club first organized open tryouts in the buildup to the team's inaugural season in 1996. More recently, Sporting KC has welcomed prospective professionals each year since 2008 when two players, Nelson Pizarro and Kevin Souter, were signed by Vermes and went on to appear in 14 matches across all competitions.


Participants must pay all expenses (registration fee, travel costs, etc.), but discounted hotel rooms are available for out-of-town players. For more information, visit the 2015 Open Tryouts webpage on SportingKC.com.


FOLLOW SPORTING KC ONLINE
Sporting KC fans looking to keep up with the club online have a place to go. The Social Media page on SportingKC.com features Twitter account information for the team, its players and several staff members. Supporters may also take advantage of the Media Recap page for all the latest independent news coverage.