Honors Piling up for Sporting KC Players

Besler wins MLS awards, Kamara earns international accolade
by Brandon Arendt   |   Monday, January 07, 2013

State of SKC - column on Sporting KC (SKC) & the Kansas City soccer scene.

In only his fourth season in MLS, Sporting Kansas City defender and Kansas native Matt Besler can do no wrong. In a year that saw many watershed moments for Besler, MLS and even United States Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann have seen it fit to reward him for a job well done.

Only one year after teammate Graham Zusi won the MLS Breakout Player of the Year award for his 2011 season, Besler followed suit and expanded upon Zusi’s 2011 performance by earning a plethora of honors.

Not only did Besler earn the 2012 MLS Breakout Player of the Year honors, but also made the MLS Best XI list and was named the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year. Beyond that, Besler earned his first USMNT call-up. And even though he didn’t play in the friendly against Mexico that the US eventually won, it shows that his talents haven’t gone unnoticed at the international level.

Worry not – Besler isn’t allowing success to go to his head. Instead he is keeping himself pretty well grounded. When asked about his recent Defender of the Year, Besler was surprisingly coy.

“I am very humbled, yet ecstatic, to be honored as MLS Defender of the Year,” Besler said. “To be a part of such a great team and backline, you could make an argument for any of the back four for Sporting Kansas City. All year long our theme has been defending as a team from the forwards on back.”

Vermes wasn’t nearly as shy about Besler’s quality.

Courtesy of Facebook

“Besler is a very steady player, which you need at his position,” Vermes said. “Even though some might think he was a bit under-the-radar, he is consistent, a solid defender, very technical and possesses an excellent soccer brain. His top notch work ethic and determination has seen him get better every year.”

The Notre Dame University standout got his professional start with Sporting KC in 2009 after being the first round pick in the 2009 MLS Super Draft. Since his pickup in 2009, he has been featured in 108 matches spanning four seasons. Most recently, Besler and the Sporting KC defense allowed 27 goals in 34 MLS matches, a league leading effort.

After signing a new long term deal with SKC amid interest overseas, Besler will have a lot of work ahead of him to repeat his stellar performance with 2013 being the most congested schedule he has seen since he first put on the Sporting Blue.

Kei Kamara named Sierra Leonean Player of the Year

On Sunday, Jan. 6, Kamara was announced as the 2012 Sierra Leonean Player of the Year after nabbing just over 50% of the vote.

Kamara edged out fellow ‘Leone Star’ and nominee, Mohamed ‘Medo’ Kamara by nearly 10% of the total vote.

Courtesy of Facebook

Kei enjoyed a stellar season for both club and country, netting 11 goals on the way to leading Sporting Kansas City in both the goals and shots on goal categories. Kamara also saw his international account open with two goals against Sao Tome and Principe in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

I managed to catch up with Kei Kamara to ask him what it means to be voted the 2012 Sierra Leonean Player of the Year.

“It feels amazing, that was never one of the goals I was shooting for so it was definitely a surprise. But its 100% a team effort both here and abroad,” he said. “The team here (SKC) helps me be one of the best to get called for the country and there we (Leone Stars) fight together for the nation. So thanks to the boys.”

Brandon ARENDT

Milwaukee Tech
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Swansea City
Brandon is a Milwaukee native and the current Sporting Kansas City columnist for Soccer Newsday. He is an avid gamer, unabashed beer snob and has what can best be described as an "unhealthy" addiction to soccer.