After a demanding 2016 season, Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler opened his offseason with a surgical procedure.
Besler underwent arthroscopic surgery in late November to clean up bone spurs in his left ankle, The Star has learned. He is expected to be healthy in time for preseason in late January, but it’s unclear how the surgery might affect his status for the planned United States men’s national team camp in January.
The operation caps a trying year for Besler, whose 2016 season was interrupted by a concussion in March and later by a knee injury in the summer. He played through the ankle injury late in the season.
Besler was also held out of the lineup a few times by coach Peter Vermes, though he responded with some of his best outings late in the year. In his final three appearances, Sporting KC allowed only one goal — the season-ending header from Seattle forward Nelson Valdez. And replays showed Valdez should have been ruled offsides.
After a key shutout against Real Salt Lake, Vermes said, “I thought Matt Besler had one of his better performances in a long time. He was fantastic in the game.”
In all, Besler made 17 starts with Sporting KC, scoring his first goal since 2011 — a late game-winner against Columbus in July.
He enjoyed yet another stable year with the U.S. national team, scoring his first career international goal. But the national team has since fired coach Jürgen Klinsmann and hired former LA Galaxy boss Bruce Arena.
Arena has said he plans to hold an annual January camp to assess the player pool. Arena said he will not drastically change the group of players — a good sign for Besler, who has been a fixture on the team for four years. But Besler’s status for the camp is to be determined.
Besler was the second Sporting KC starter to undergo an offseason surgery. Last month, striker Dom Dwyer underwent arthroscopic surgery to clean up bone spurs in his right ankle. Dwyer is also expected to be fully healthy in time for preseason in late January.