Matt Besler and Seth Sinovic played their first soccer game together when they were in first grade. For more than a decade, they were teammates on a top youth club in the region. As professionals, they’ve won an MLS Cup with Sporting Kansas City, playing side by side on the back line. They’ve won three U.S. Open championships.
And now they’re venturing into an entirely new project together.
Besler and Sinovic are part of a four-person group that has launched States, an American soccer lifestyle brand based in their hometown of Kansas City.
“Matt and I have seen first-hand the growth of soccer in this country, and we wanted to have a company that represents that,” Sinovic said. “The goal of our company is to be exclusively soccer with a focus on American soccer, because while a lot of companies are producing soccer things, it’s not their sole focus. We feel like soccer deserves more than that.”
Besler and Sinovic founded the company with a childhood teammate, Daniel Kerley, along with branding specialist Ryan Van Goethen.
States has a website and a pop-up store in Leawood (5210 116th Place) that will be open through Dec. 23. Besler and Sinovic will make an appearance at the store Saturday afternoon. The company sells training gear, which it calls its “on-pitch” collection, as well as an off-pitch line that includes shirts, hoodies, joggers and hats. For now, the apparel is designed for adult men. In the future, they plan to add women’s and youth items to the brand.
“We’re starting with what we know best,” Besler said.
That’s been the common thread throughout the process. It was nearly three years ago that Sinovic and Kerley discussed launching a business, and after looping Besler into the conversation, they settled on products they would use themselves.
Sinovic literally piled more than 50 old training tops onto Besler’s basement floor, and he and Besler dissected every part of the shirts. The States items are a collection of their favorite pieces from each — from material to fit to design.
The company will target three primary customers — the current player, the former player who wants to stay connected to the game and the fan who is new to soccer but wants to create an association with it.
“And the last thing is that we wanted to make this a Kansas City company,” Besler said. “We’ve seen Kansas City grab onto something and make it ours. We want them to be the first ones to see it, wear it, feel it and give us feedback.”
Besler and Sinovic will be accepting that feedback in person Saturday. During their appearance at the pop-up store in Leawood, States has partnered with Heart to Heart to provide soccer balls to refugee camps across the world. They will be accepting $10 donations toward that objective, with States planning to match each $10 donation.