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Matt Besler
Matt Besler

Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler was named to the United States 25-player roster on Monday for the national team’s final two matches of the year.

The U.S. will face Colombia at 1:45 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 14, at Craven Cottage in London (ESPN, UniMas) before taking on the Republic of Ireland at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at Aviva Stadium in Dublin (ESPN2).

“I’m excited to join the U.S. Men’s National Team for these upcoming friendlies in Europe,” Besler said. “Colombia and Ireland are tough opponents and will provide us strong tests as we look to close out 2014 on a high note.”

Besler has made 22 international appearances for the United States since his debut in 2013. The 27-year-old central defender started all four games for the U.S. MNT at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and leads the team with 10 games started this year.

An Overland Park, Kan., native, Besler has made 161 appearances in MLS competition (including postseason) over six seasons 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 anchors a Sporting KC backline that has conceded the fewest shots and shots on target among MLS teams in each of the past three years. Since 2011, he ranks first among all MLS defenders with 4,756 successful passes and he is second among defenders with 8,200 touches and 906 clearances over that same span.

The United States is 6-3-4 in 2014 and reached the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, finishing runners-up in Group G behind eventual champions Germany. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has led the U.S. MNT to a 33-13-11 record since his hiring in 2011 and is on the 10-man shortlist for FIFA World Coach of the Year in 2014.

Colombia – ranked No. 3 in the world – reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup behind Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez with six goals and two assists. Rodriguez is a FIFA Ballon d’Or finalist and has six goals and five assists since joining Real Madrid in Spain’s La Liga. Colombia captain Radamel Falcao has returned from a knee injury to feature with Manchester United in the English Premier League.

The Republic of Ireland currently sits atop Group D in UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying after a 1-1 draw with World Cup champions Germany last month. The side is led by captain Robbie Keane, who has 60 goals and 38 assists for the LA Galaxy in the past four MLS seasons (including playoffs).
- Story from Sporting KC

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Sporting KC’s first match of the 2015 preseason will kick off Jan. 31 against the Portland Timbers at Kino North Stadium in Tucson, Ariz.

Preseason hosts FC Tucson announced the full schedules for the 2015 Desert Friendlies and 2015 Desert Diamond Cup with Sporting Kansas City slated to participate in both competitions.

Now in its third year, the Desert Friendlies will feature five MLS teams playing from Jan. 31 to Feb. 12. The fifth annual Desert Diamond Cup will also feature five MLS teams, along with FC Tucson, playing on four match dates from Feb. 18-28.

Sporting KC will prepare for its first season in the Western Conference since 2004 by playing six opponents from the West during the preseason, highlighted by a showdown with Supporters’ Shield holders Seattle Sounders FC on Feb. 21. The 2015 MLS season will begin in March with all 20 teams playing a 34-game regular season schedule.
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Sporting Kansas City’s 2014 season came to an end with a 2-1 loss on Thursday night at the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Knockout Round of the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Dom Dwyer scored his team-record 24th goal of the year across all competition, but Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his second goal of the game in the 90th minute to complete the comeback.

In the postseason for a fourth straight year and returning to the playoffs as the reigning MLS Cup champions, Sporting Kansas City fell to the Red Bulls for a third time in 2014 and suffered its second such defeat in a five-day span.

New York, which earned its first playoff victory at Red Bull Arena and snapped a postseason home winless streak that dated back to 2005, now advances to the Eastern Conference Semifinals against No. 1 seed D.C. United.

The two sides — meeting for the first time in the playoffs in their 19-year history — played to a scoreless first half that saw scoring chances on both ends of the field. Australian international Tim Cahill sent his shot over the crossbar from six yards out in the 17th minute, as did Wright-Phillips with a header 15 minutes later.

Thierry Henry found space on the left side of the penalty area in the 34th minute only to push his shot wide of the far post. Sporting Kansas City responded less than a minute later as Dwyer chased down a long ball from Aurelien Collin and picked out Paulo Nagamura, whose first-time shot was saved by Luis Robles.

The second half started emphatically with New York nearly finding the breakthrough goal in the 48th minute. Henry’s free kick into the area was punched away by Eric Kronberg and fell to Dax McCarty at the top of the 18-yard box. The eight-year MLS veteran directed his header narrowly wide of the empty net.

Instead it was Sporting Kansas City that recorded the game’s opening goal in the 53rd minute. Benny Feilhaber forced a turnover at midfield and ran at goal before slipping the ball centrally to Dwyer. The Englishman made no mistake, burying a first-time shot with his left foot past Robles for his second career postseason goal.

The Red Bulls rally would commence immediately as the East’s top scoring team forced three saves in a four-minute span. Kronberg made his best save of the night in the 55th minute to tip a Henry header over the crossbar, followed by a save on Jamison Olave’s header on the ensuing corner kick and finally a stop on Lloyd Sam with two New York players looming.

The equalizer came in the 77th minute courtesy of Wright-Phillips, the MLS Golden Boot winner who matched the MLS single-season record with 27 goals in the regular season. Henry put the ball into his path and his right-footed shot took a deflection off Matt Besler before hitting the back of the net to set the stage for the last-minute dramatics.

In the final minute of regulation, Wright-Phillips rose to meet a cross from second-half substitute Ambroise Oyongo and directed his header off the inside of the far post for the game-winning goal. Wright-Phillips goal was his sixth against Sporting KC in 2014, including braces in back-to-back games over the past week.

The loss snapped Sporting Kansas City’s 45-game unbeaten streak (43-0-2) in MLS competition (including playoffs) when leading in the 75th minute dating back to 2011 and brings the 2014 campaign to a close after 43 competitive matches.

With Thursday’s elimination, Sporting Kansas City will hold the 11th position in Major League Soccer’s various player acquisition mechanisms (MLS SuperDraft, allocation order) for the upcoming 2015 season.
- Story from Sporting KC