Before Matt Besler stepped onto the playing field Sunday night, Sporting Kansas City assistant coach Zoran Savic pulled him aside for some last-minute instructions. In the event of a set piece, Savic explained, Besler had the option to either remain on the back defensive line or move forward with an eye on goal.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Besler opted for the latter. As Sporting KC lined up a corner kick in a tie match, he crept toward the back post.
Ike Opara found him.
Besler found his first goal since 2011.
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Besler headed home the game-winner 2 minutes before the final whistle in Sporting KC’s 3-2 victory against Columbus on Sunday — a play in which he opted for offense over defense.
“We needed that goal at that moment,” Besler said. “That’s why I went up.”
The play unfolded in unintended fashion. The initial corner kick actually bounced out of the penalty area before Sporting KC defender Jimmy Medranda chased it down. Medranda sent a cross toward the left side of the box, where Opara was able to get his head on it for a change of direction.
After the match, Opara said he heard Dom Dwyer calling for the pass, but not enough space separated the two players, and he wasn’t confident he could make the short pass. So he instead aimed for the back post.
“I was just hoping someone was there,” Opara said. “It found the right guy.”
Besler subbed into the match in the 54th minute, after Lawrence Olum complained of tightness in his legs. It was then that Savic offered him the set-piece directions.
“Normally Matt stays back in those situations. He does pretty well organizing (everyone) so we don’t get countered,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “Normally he would be back, but he made the decision to go up on the play. It’s one of those things that you feel, and it’s great he felt it. He made the right decision out of it.”