One year after midfielder Graham Zusi took home MLS Breakout Player of the Year honors in 2011, the award will stay in Sporting Kansas City's possession after defender Matt Besler was chosen for this year's honor on Friday as revealed by MLSSoccer.com in their Best of 2012 series.
Besler, who signed a new deal with the club last week, has already hauled in MLS Defender of the Year and Best XI recognitions this offseason. Though his newest accolade adds to a banner year for the 25-year-old native of Overland Park, Besler already has his sights set on more hardware in the future.
"This year was a special season for me as a player," Besler said. "Now all of the attention is towards reaching new heights in 2013 and this team's goal to win championship trophies next year. That mission has already started. We are striving to build upon all of our collective successes in order to achieve even greater goals within our grasp."
Along with Zusi and fellow defenders Seth Sinovic, Chance Myers and Kyle Miller, Besler has once again led a rigorous routine of workouts during the short break between seasons. The group has incorporated both yoga and spin classes along with the more traditional distance runs, weight lifting sessions and basketball cool downs.
"It can get pretty intense," Besler said. "We're all competitive guys but it's all about pushing one another."
The 2011 MLS All-Star anchored a Sporting Kansas City defense that allowed 27 goals in 34 MLS matches to lead all MLS teams with the fewest goals conceded. He started 30 of his 31 appearances in 2012 and was part of a smothering team defense that held opponents to the fewest shots (328) and shots on goal (102) of all 19 teams during the regular season.
His stellar play in 2012 earned an invitation to the U.S. Men's National Team for the first time at the senior level as part of the 20-player gameday roster for the team's first-ever win against Mexico at Estadio Azteca in August. He was also named Sporting Kansas City's Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season and was the highest-ranked defender in this year's MLS Castrol Index at No. 25 overall.