Matt Besler was a freshman at Blue Valley West when the high school opened in 2001.
On Wednesday, the 12-year MLS pro took the field at Children's Mercy Park for his club-record 344th appearance in a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas. And he did so with three teammates who also attended Blue Valley West, including Class of 2019 graduate Cam Duke making his first professional start, on a night that featured six Sporting KC players from the same school district playing in an MLS match.
- Blue Valley West: Matt Besler (33), Gianluca Busio (18), Cam Duke (19), Jaylin Lindsey (20)
- Blue Valley North: Felipe Hernandez (22)
- Blue Valley Northwest: Daniel Salloi (24)
On Thursday, Besler joined The Border Patrol on Sports Radio 810 WHB with hosts Nate Bukaty, Steven St. John and Jake Gutierrez for his weekly segment that began, fittingly, with Besler promoting his new platform to give back to local high school athletes through the Goodcents #GoodSport contest. The initiative will honor 10 area student-athletes with free Goodcents subs for a year, Sporting KC gear and the chance to appear alongside Besler in a Goodcents commercial.
Appearing alongside Besler last night at Children's Mercy Park were five Sporting KC Academy products, who earned high praise from Besler for their performances.
"I thought they did awesome," Besler told 810 this morning. "It's a big moment for them and for the club, as well. It speaks to the club that we have and the system that we have in place, being able to bring these kids along -- not to take anything from them either. You have to give these guys credit. They prepare themselves. They're leaning every day in practice. They have unbelievable attitudes. They're coming on the field and they're contributing in a big way. The future is very bright for them individually and for us as a team. It's exciting to watch these kids come onto the field and do their thing."
Besler went so far as to say "they're miles ahead of where I was at that age" in terms of developing their technical abilities and praised Busio in particular for excelling at an unfamiliar position on the field since transitioning to holding midfielder.
"He's been one of the best players on the field for us this season. That's primarily coming from a position he's never played," Besler noted. "It's special to watch. It's fun right now. It's exciting. We should all just enjoy what we're watching right now. This stuff doesn't happen very often. We're watching development happen right in front of our eyes at a rapid pace. It's very promising to see just how fast he picks up on things. It's like playing with a veteran. His instincts are just ridiculous."
Besler also touched on the inconsistency of the season and the performance of teams across MLS this year, pointing to Sporting's two previous matches with Houston as a prime example before touching on Saturday's rematch with the Dynamo.
"They're going to be one of the most confident teams in the league with the last two results that they've gotten. They're playing well right now," said Besler. "They're extremely dangerous going forward and we learned that in a tough way when we played them last time."
Listen to the full 17-minute interview below and tune into Sports Radio 810 WHB at 7 p.m. CT tonight for a new edition of the Sporting KC Show with hosts Nate Bukaty, Carter Augustine and Aly Trost.