Dear Kansas City,
Thank you. I grew up in front of you. You drafted me out of college and brought me home. You never turned your back on me while I learned the ins and outs of the professional game. You’ve provided the most loyal fans in MLS. You’ve made Sporting Park the best stadium in the country. You supported me with the U.S. National Team like I am one of your sons. You’ve reassured me that I am right where I belong.
There were many factors in deciding to re-sign long term with Sporting, but it starts and ends with the people of Kansas City.
On game day when I look around our stadium, it’s mostly a blur of Sporting blue. But sometimes, I make eye contact with a person for a split second, and realize it’s a friend. Sometimes I see family members and neighbors. I recognize teammates I used to play with, and rivals I used to play against. I see old teachers, coaches, and classmates. I see fans that started out as strangers, but are now friends.
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It gives me chills knowing I get to play in front of all these people. It’s truly an honor. After the game when I walk around the field and see so many familiar faces, all I can do is smile. Believe me, I don’t take for granted the opportunity to play for you and our city.
I grew up idolizing many Kansas City sports figures. They were my heroes. When I first learned how to play baseball, I threw right-handed, but I started batting left-handed because that’s what George Brett did on TV. To this day, I do everything right-handed, except for swinging a bat.
Just as my idols were, I am blessed to play a professional sport, not to mention in my hometown. There are many times when I feel like I should pinch myself, but the most powerful moments are when a kid comes up to me and asks for an autograph. Usually, when I finish writing my signature, their face lights up and they say, “Thank you Mr. Besler.” But sometimes they say, “One day, I want to grow up and be just like you. You’re my hero.” If only they realized I was standing in their shoes 20 years ago.
I must thank the entire staff and the ownership group of Sporting Kansas City. There are hundreds of people who contribute to our success. Without a doubt, we have the best owners in professional sports. Their commitment and loyalty throughout this process is unmatched. Everyone should be excited at their vision and what we will accomplish together over the next five years. I am forever grateful that this organization is giving me the opportunity to play the prime of my career in my hometown.
Now it’s time to get back to work. I have remarkable teammates and we have a chance to do something special. More than ever, we are motivated to win championships.
Thank you, Kansas City.
Matt Besler, who grew up in Overland Park and attended Blue Valley West, plays soccer for Sporting Kansas City and the U.S. men’s national team.